Whether we know it or not, we are negotiating all the time.  From salary negotiations or business deals to buying a home or a car or negotiating bedtimes or curfews with our kids.

Knowing how to effectively negotiate is a critical life skill that can yield dividends in every area of your life.

But many negotiations become stuck between competing positions to get as much as possible or pay as little as possible.  That’s a recipe for deadlock and failure.

Likewise, many divorce negotiations stall when spouses get caught up with looking to pay as little alimony as possible or, on the other side, how to get more alimony.  Not only does this back and forth take a lot of time, effort, and money, it becomes counterproductive because each party is simply looking to “win.”

But win-lose negotiations are just plain bad practice.  They only lead to lengthier and more expensive drawn-out negotiations with little chance of success.  The best negotiations are ones that yield mutual gain and can also lead to solid long-term relationships.

So, a better approach is to make the other person an offer they can’t refuse.  Making the first offer automatically steers the negotiation toward your interests.

Decide what your end game is and where ultimately want to end up.  What would a successful outcome look like to you?  Then think about what would look good to you if you were the other person.  What would a successful outcome look like to them? What are they looking for?

It’s important that you either know the industry well or do your homework ahead of time so you can come up with creative solutions that could benefit the other person.

This is where asking openended questions and listening carefully can be invaluable.  In a high-stakes business negotiation, for example, you might learn the other person really wants to retire and buy a piece of property in Florida and you could help with financing as part of the deal.

In any negotiation, it’s also important to be transparent about your needs and what you’d like to see as an outcome.  That way, you can enlist the other person to work together to find creative ways to meet both your needs.

Approaching negotiations like this simply becomes thoughtful interactions with other people and ways to find even better solutions than you might otherwise not have considered.

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