8 Negotiation Tactics for Assistants

"20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary" (source: Women Don't Ask). In a profession dominated by women, it's important to address learning how to negotiate. It's a skill that will not only help you in your personal life, but can increase your value as an assistant. Last month I shared a free webinar with my subscribers about how to win negotiations and wanted to share an overview of those tips as well as a few others.

Tip 1: Connect on a human level
"If you go in anticipating a war, that’s exactly what you’ll experience" (source: Entrepreneur). It' s not a battle; it's respecting the needs of all parties and focusing on an agreement. As assistants, we typically have a high emotional intelligence, so this should be an easy one. Focus on "I" statements instead of accusatory "you" statements to keep the conversation non-threatening and any possible negative energy at bay.
Use their name. If you use the other person's name at least four times during the conversation, you will generate approximately 20% more value (source: How EAs Can Win Negotiations webinar on 12/2/16). 
Opt for face-to-face meetings whenever possible to increase the ability to really connect with the other person.
Be mindful of keeping your body language and tone cool and composed. Not only will it help to bring a positive air to the table, but will help to ensure your principal is represented in a positive manner as well.

Tip 2: Ask a lot of questions
It's important to not assume you know exactly all the details and what their frame of mind is. Use both open-ended and information gathering questions. Doing so not only shows your level of interest but ensures you capture as many details about the other side as you can, especially when comes to their motivations and limitations. The number one reason why people do not succeed in negotiating is not asking enough questions (source: How EAs Can Win Negotiations webinar on 12/2/16), so it's worth taking the time to prepare your inquiries and ensure you address each one.

Tip 3: Know the worst-case scenario
Get with the person you support to nail this down. Not only will you know their baseline but it will give you a means to measure how much you surpass that mark. As a top assistant I know how good it feels to surpass expectations, and doing so will also demonstrate the value you added to the final outcome. Be sure to keep records of these gains (ex: money saved, additional free services obtained, etc.) so you remember your wins during future yearly reviews and interviews.

Tip 4: Be optimistic and aim high
If you are optimistic you will be more successful in the negotiation, so go ahead and ask for more. According to Brodow, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy; conversely, if you have low expectations, you will most likely wind up with a less than desirable outcome. One example is negotiating a car purchase for the person you support. You could ask the dealer to throw in free lifetime oil changes and an upgraded stereo system.

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