Learning to negotiate

Wetumwene Shikage
Brandt von West

I’m going to quickly boil something as complex as negotiations down into its most simplistic form. There are typically two reasons why we negotiate: Because we want something more, or something better. This could be more money, better working conditions, a better deal or more things. Simple, isn’t it?

It’s such a shame that many of us are afraid to ask for more or better. When we do gather the courage to ask, we stop just short of what we really want.

But whatever your reason, I probably don’t have to tell you that by not asking, you’re missing out on more than just money; you’re putting your long-term opportunities and earning potential at stake.

Here’s an example:

Your contract with the company Widgets is We is up for renewal. You’ve worked hard and through your actions (directly or indirectly) profits are up, costs are down and the company is doing quite well. You don’t like getting involved in negotiations and typically shy away from it. Now you might think ‘hey, just because I’m not good with negotiations doesn’t mean I can’t get someone else to negotiate for me’. And that makes perfect sense. Good for you. That’s good level thinking right there.

If you are going to rely on someone to do the negotiations for you, then there must be an adequate risk/reward factor that drives them to do the best damn negotiation for you they possibly can. Most of the time, that risk/reward factor is only valid for you. It only affects you.

Companies that get paid either up front or by commission will rarely think hard enough, negotiate with tactfulness and vigour for you in the same way that you could do for you.

They might get you a fair deal, but it’ll unlikely be a great deal. There’s simply not enough reward in it to drive them to get you what you truly deserve. Beyond their fair commission or adequate payment, they don’t need to fight that hard for you.

Learning to negotiate during these very uncertain times will bring you value every day of your professional life.