We negotiate every day of our lives. We negotiate the price of an automobile or house. We negotiate a specific salary or pay increase. We negotiate in legal problems. We negotiate in relationships with friends and family. Negotiation involves reaching agreement. Here are some tools, tips and habits to improve your negotiation skill set.

1. Go for the Win/Win. Successful negotiation is achieved when both parties’ needs are fulfilled. When fulfilling the needs of others, you are allowing them to walk away feeling good. Focus on the win/win outcome! That is, make sure each party walks away with getting what they want. Developing a win/win outcome establishes a positive connotation with the experience, which ultimately sets the tone for future interactions. Keep in mind what billionaire and oil tycoon J. Paul Getty shared, “My father said: ‘You must never try to make all the money in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too, because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.’”

2. Let the other person make the first offer. Letting the other party make the first offer helps you to establish the field in which you are playing. Sometimes the other party might offer more than you could have ever expected. Now that’s a nice field – one you might never have been able to play upon had you set the opening terms.

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

– Peter Drucker

3. Be pleasant to work with. If you are being difficult it might be difficult to strike a deal. Many negotiations are unsuccessful because people can be rude, nasty or disrespectful during the negotiation process. If there is a mutual respect and each party likes one another it is easier to reach a mutual negotiation. Be pleasant to work with and it will work in your favor.

4. Ask for it all. When leaders of major countries negotiate, they ask for far more than the other party will accept. This is done on purpose. The premise is that if you ask for it all, you can always back off from your original offering. You can always lower your prices, but you can rarely raise them once the negotiations start. Ask for far more than you think you’re going to get when interviewing for a job or when discussing a purchase. Use this technique whenever you’re engaged in any negotiations.

“Accept the challenges, so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.”

– General George Patton

5. Research the other party. Know with whom you are dealing. Find out all you can about the other person, product or service. What are their motives, convictions and beliefs? It is easy to assume that others want the same things we want. People are different and they have different wants and needs. The best time to negotiate is when you know the perspective of the other person.

6. Don’t talk past the close. Once you have reached your goal, stop talking whether you are negotiating, trying to win an argument, persuade someone to your point of view or just trying to entertain. You can exchange pleasantries and non-related subjects, but not the deal that as been sealed. Anything after that runs the risk of making the listener change his or her mind.

7. Be flexible in your communication. The most successful people in the world are those who possess strong social skills. People who work well with others consistently rise to the top of their fields. Have you ever met a person with incredible talent but lacking in interpersonal skills? Have you noticed this lack holding him or her back? Your ability to communicate well with others is certainly one of the determining factors as to whether or not others want to work with you.

8. Review your financial status. If you are negotiating when there is money involved you need to know your limits. Knowing your financial limitations helps you to not offer more than you can handle. Negotiating a purchase that you cannot deliver on is bad for both parties involved.

9. Do the right thing. Sometimes it seems that the easy way is the best path to follow, but don’t be fooled by short-term gains. When in doubt always do what is right for everyone involved. This is a powerful mechanism that strengthens your personal integrity. Doing the right thing for the right reason influences your mind in a positive way. One of the extraordinary side effects of this habit is that you sleep better at night!

10. Be willing to walk away. Avoid being emotionally caught up in getting what you want right now. If the person you are negotiating with is being rigid, then you have to be willing to walk away from the situation. You might have to get what you want by dealing with another person. Or, you might have to re-engage the same person at another time.

11. Make a personal connection. Connecting with others, networking and creating fulfilling relationships that are a positive influence in your life can be one of the best things you do. Focus on others, be genuine and listen as much as you speak. Discover the goals, dreams and hopes of others. Having common goals, values and shared experiences can enhance any relationship.

You negotiate all day long. Utilize some of these simple ways to successfully negotiate in your business dealings and in your personal life.

Best of success to you!