I can remember being very young and “working things out” between friends. I got older and before I became a career coach, I spent over twenty years as a television commercial producer, negotiating prices on equipment, deals on crew rates, amounts on locations; I negotiated budgets and contracts. I loved it because it came naturally. I had no problem getting on the phone when I felt I’d been overcharged for something and asking why, or working with buyers when selling a used car, or dealing with my real estate agent the few times over the years that my husband and I sold our houses. I liked “working things out”. What started out as a natural ability has over the years become even more finessed, just like anyone else who has a talent and continues to work on it. It’s this knowledge that I pass along to my clients during our coaching sessions. I’m thinking of giving a negotiation class shortly; email and let me know what you think. Here are a few negotiating tools for those that feel they may not be born negotiators:

1) Know your bottom line – Always go into your conversation (negotiation), knowing what you’re willing to accept. Don’t go below that, don’t go below it unless for some other amazing reason it makes sense. Perhaps you are being offered something else but of equal value to you, but in a different way. For example: if you are negotiating for a certain salary and are offered less money, but are working for less days. Maybe that would work? Don’t forget your worth and/or the worth of whatever it is that you’re negotiating. If you’re negotiating your salary, be aware of what is considered within the ballpark of what it is that you do. Don’t act like you’re doing someone a favor. Whomever is talking with you wants some kind of outcome from what you’re talking about or they wouldn’t be spending the time to talk about it.

2) There’s no rush – Often in the midst of negotiating there’s the feeling that everything needs to be solved right away. You may be told there’s a rush, but if the other party wants something badly enough, they will wait a bit. In fact if things take a while, that can actually work in your favor because people begin to lose a bit of patience and are more inclined to want to bend or wrap things up. Keep the conversation going.

3) Don’t feel like you have to know it all – There can be a tendency in negotiating to feel like you’ve been hatched from Harvard-maybe you are…maybe you aren’t. You don’t have to know it all. It helps to appear to be a bit more of the opposite. You don’t have to be lacking of all intelligence, but if the other party is saying things you don’t understand, then say so. Just asking for continual clarification can help to find loopholes to help your side of the negotiation.

4) Be calm – You may be negotiating life changing things, or maybe you’re looking for a better price on your phone bill. Whatever you’re negotiating, it’s important to be as upbeat and likeable as possible. “You get more bees with honey than you do with vinegar”. You absolutely can say things about how you disagree with your other person’s point of view, but you need to watch the tone in which it’s delivered.

5) Ask for another person – This isn’t always possible. It may be that the person you are negotiating with is your only person…your last person. THE person. But if you are for instance dealing with Customer Service at your bank, your credit card company, the manufacturer of your appliance, the airport, or Town Hall, and you don’t feel you’re making the progress you wish to be making, there is nothing to be lost by “saying you’ve been very helpful, but is there anyone above you that I’d be able to speak to?” or “would I please be able to speak to your superior?” You continue on up the ladder until you find an opening in the cloud. This can take a while. Often times you receive an excellent compromise. In the end you have to be prepared that it may not work out and if it didn’t, it wasn’t meant to be. That’s negotiation!

6) Believe in Yourself – Not everyone was born a good negotiator. Some people were and learned to be even better. Some people weren’t and learned through practice. It’s like walking-the more you do it, the better you become, but you have to do it. You have to believe you can. Use the things I’ve listed.