Lessons from Natalie Reynolds Negotiation Masterclass at Cass Business School London

I entered the lower floor auditorium at Cass Business School with the intention to learn a lot about negotiation. I sure did learn so many lessons to apply not just in business but in my day to day life transactions. Yes transactions – we’re constantly negotiating. We negotiate our time, money, effort, values, decisions and so much more. We find ourselves negotiating with our spouse, friends, family, colleagues, boss, customers and even the society at large. How do you manage all that without going completely insane?

Negotiation experts Tanya Tarr and Natalie Reynolds delivered a stunning lecture which summarised this extensive subject matter in 1 hour. And I’m happy I attended. Here are some key points and takeaway which you can reflect on and apply to your lives:

  1. You don’t need experience: Don’t you find that whenever you want to talk about negotiating a price and you ask for someone’s opinion. You may get an answer like “..but you need experience”. I found out in fact that you don’t. You don’t have to have 30 years’ experience to negotiate. Negotiation is universal and it’s not only a business skill. It’s a way of life that has impact in every one of our lives.  However, you have to have confidence to negotiate
  2. It’s all about process + psychology: You have to understand the processes involved in a negotiation. Negotiation is all about people. With assess facts differently, we brig ourselves to every negotiation so does the other person. The more we know of the person sitting opposite us, the better.
  3. You have to prepare. This must be done from all angles and intelligently. Have a clear understanding of the issues that may arise during your talk and have a thorough study of your client or opponent. Fact –based research always helps but also look at the profile of your client to know what they like, dislike, admire, who their icons are etc.
  4. You need a plan: Planning is recommended at all times but it’s crucial in negotiation. From the team you’re going to the meeting with to the seating. When do you speak? Drop your price? Challenge? Increase your price? When do you walk away? How far will you discuss an issue? What are the valuables for your go or no go decisions? According to Natalie Reynolds, planning helps prepares you to win
  5. Have a figure to propose: Talking about money can be difficult even with a customer or boss. Natalie mentioned that we don’t have to me stagnant and not move our price (including our body). Always be prepared to propose a figure. During the course of the conversation you may find yourself making multiple proposals but always have something to work with even when stress and pressure kick in
  6. Persevere even with a NO: In this day and age when winning is more celebrated than losing, we sure have to learn how to accept a NO and move on. Of course review the lesson learnt and prepare for another meeting. She also said we have to be cautioned about getting an immediate YES – this is a clear red flag that the offer may be substandard. So, always make a proposal until you reach a decision
  7. Every person involved should feel like a winner. It’s not always a win-lose situation especially if you want to maintain a long term relationship with that person. As the world becomes digitally connected, guess what? It becomes even smaller. Reputation and brand have become very important in business. And of course nobody wants to be branded as a loser publicly or privately. Think about how the other person feels
  8. Anchors are your friends: Anchors can help you win in negotiation if you know how to use them well. When your opponent makes the first move, take that information to your advantage as it will influence the outcome of your negotiation. The first proposal is used to test the waters, it’s never the best offer. This is used to see how low or far the other person is willing to go. Don’t waste time asking your opponent to explain the price or breakdown the price, instead adjust accordingly based on their proposal
  9. Always have your facts and market research ready to back up your price point or salary proposal. Even in a situation of bias, that neutralises it. If your employer has a fixed range then you can think about bonus, share options and other skills you can propose.
  10. Don’t forget to use these sentences when needed: “If you…then I will” and “I appreciate there’s a range but…”

Tanya Tarr and Natalie Reynolds also shared some reading list:

First offers in negotiations: Determinants and effects: https://www0.gsb.columbia.edu/mygsb/faculty/research/pubfiles/11691/first_offers.pdf

Negotiation is universal and it’s not only a business skill. It’s a way of life that has impact in every one of our lives. 

– Tanya Tarr

Also watch this recommended Ted Talk by social psychologist Adam Galinsky. 

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