Fishermen boats on an early morning prepared to get what they want,Pondicherry (India)

How to get what you want ?

Simplifying negotiations for successful outcomes.

The world would be a simpler space if everybody did unto us what we wanted and conformed to all our demands .Isn’t it too wishful?

From getting the right cup of tea to finding the right partner or running a successful business, every inch of our lives is anything but a situation of consent from multiple parties and hence battles of negotiation.

Negotiations aren’t always neat and nice; they are awful and disturbing at times. Whether it’s buying groceries or finding the right parking or a collaborative partnership as well. We all have negotiated for that little extra in our lives in the hope of a better outcome each time we make a decision. Yet, we often retrospectively realize that maybe we did not get what we wanted or could have done better.

It all turns into nostalgic analysis of what-ifs and what-not’s.

I have been personally trying to improve my understanding of negotiation in daily life by reading a lot ,observing things around and much of that analysis has helped me identify few elements to improve and be better at negotiation.

Ask for what you want

Among thousands of debates on this, Thomas Smale’s piece in Entrepreneur really made sense to me when I read his basic rule of negotiation to be ‘Just Ask’. He says “By asking direct questions, you can quickly find out how interested someone is regarding the outcome of the negotiation. Are they eager to buy or sell? Are they willing to move on terms? The sooner you can determine interest level, the faster you can reach the final stretch of the negotiation process. Cut out the “maybe,” and get a yes or a no early in the process. No one wants their time wasted if neither party is being direct.”

Defining what you want — and communicating it at best is critical. And then being vocal and expressive about your goal as long as it’s reasonable is the next step.

Also asking helps clarify the distance between the two expectations ,each of the giver and the taker.

Arming oneself with the right information

No negotiation can proceed with half-baked information. Research,research, research until you feel that you know enough to ask the right questions to the other party. Assuming the obvious is not acceptable. There might be hidden pieces of information the knowledge of which can totally swing the conversation anywhere.

People often don’t ask questions while negotiating: They may forget to raise important matters out of fear of being perceived as invasive. However, people who ask a lot of questions tend to be perceived in a more positive light and also learn more of the situation.

In negotiations, information is power and the target should be to uncover all areas of critical information on the parties involved.

Practice Active Listening

We are inundated with millions of thoughts every day, however to be able to dissect the needs and the wants of a decision making, we need to practice active listening. While in a negotiation, it’s critical to be putting off any distractions and solely focusing on the message of the speaker. Controlling ones’ instant responses and giving a clear thought to the message is important besides alienating any other emotions or worries about other happenings in life. There are visible and invisible signals including body language, face expressions, background knowledge of the person — all that cumulatively helps build our perception and should be considered when listening someone.

An old adage emphasizes this too “I know you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I’m not sure that you realize that what you heard was not what I meant!’

Planning for Emotional Expectations

In negotiations that are less transactional and involve parties in long-term relationships, understanding the role of emotions is even more important than it is in conventionally transactional deal making. Though much like any transactional deal, its critical to focus on the topline aspects of who the beneficiaries are, what’s in it for me, yet the inevitably strongest move is to be aware of your emotional energies and planning for the right ‘Emotional Strategy’.

There has been much research into the role of emotions in influencing the results of a negotiation. The major role is in the understanding of how different is what they feel versus what they express via words or actions, that is.

Anxiety is the dominant emotion and is symptomatic of any critical negotiation in an individual's life.. Excellent negotiators often make their counterparts feel anxious on purpose. Countering Anxiety is hence one of the best moves to gaining successful outcomes. Be it interviews, competitions or even in personal relationships situations where the ambience (sense induced through settings or music or external props) fuels anxiety, the negotiation gets imbalanced.

So, how would you manage this anxiety? Of course, try to avoid feeling anxious during any negotiation process. Much like any traditional learning process this requires immense practice and familiarization. It’s researched that anxiety may result from a combination of nature (your genetics) and nurture (your environment).It's ,hence, the need to familiarize yourself with the negotiation tactics to be less anxious when required, that’s how psychologists treat anxiety through exposure therapy- helping patients slowly acclimatize to the environment.

When it comes to emotional control, much credit goes to the age old technique of emotional distancing as well, known as ‘time-out. Recently, my cook was asking for more money than required and when I said no to it, she took a week’s leave. This way she created an emotional distance to recharge her self-confidence and meanwhile coerced me into re-thinking as well. Before she even came back, I called and asked when she would resume. Boom, her time-out worked.

Customizing approach by understanding personalities

Establishing relationships is very critical to a successful negotiation. This can only be achieved by careful estimation of the personalities of people around us. And most importantly of our individual selves. Knowing yourself and your behavioral signals is important before analyzing the counterpart and their expected responses.

While seeking to negotiate, one must be on the alert to identify the convergence of our divergent interests. This can help ease the deal by finding common goals to achieve instead of points of difference to debate on. Much as the French concept of Co-operative Egotism, it is this principle that needs to be sought in understanding different personalities. If you and I exchange ideas, we each now have two and this transaction builds a cumulative of four ideas where both benefit, which, is the ideal result of any negotiation. And as goes Adam Smith’s phrase: ‘It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’ (Wealth of Nations, 1776).

Experts mostly for real do not indulge in the games of negotiation, they admire and embrace the value of ,rather the art of compromise and abhor the idea of one-sided win. They understand and appreciate the value of finding a common ground of interest wherein to converge the goals of the discussion.

By doing extensive research on the counterparts previous deals or by knowing them better,its always more constructive to strategise and plan well for the conversation.


True negotiation ends up as a win-win for the both parties involved, it not a game or a war but a behavioral process where each stakeholder wins something. We do think a lot of ways to be able to get what we want in a negotiation, however it is all intuition, slick understanding of your counterpart and honest planning of goals.

“If you take a man and a woman without any formal training and put them in the same situation, you will find the woman tends to rely on intuition,” Mr. Nierenberg author of “The Art of Negotiating” told the New York Times in 1971. “In the end, this is what a mature negotiator finally does. He relies on intuition.”

Thanks for reading this long post :)

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