How to Negotiate Anything Fearlessly


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Michael Donaldson is the author of Fearless Negotiating: The Wish, Want, Walk Method to Reaching Solutions That Work.

He says in the introduction that he wrote this book for:

  • anyone who is feeling a bit unsure going into a negotiation
  • anyone who feels beaten up after a negotiating session
  • anyone who feels that they could have or should have done better in their last negotiation
  • anyone who wants to say “Yes” to the master negotiator within each and every one of us

Negotiating a job offer is one of the scariest moments in your job search, ironically, since it’s also the much hoped for culmination of your journey. Donaldson’s Wish-Want-Walk method is designed to put everyone at ease as they approach a negotiation. It’s even more effective because of the simplicity of its design.

To prepare for any negotiation, Donaldson writes, you must first prepare – in writing – your list.

  • The Wish is your goal—your dream result—the way you would have things turn out if you didn’t have to negotiate with anyone, ask anyone’s permission, or seek anyone’s approval. It is the way the world would be if you controlled the world. Donaldson recommends that you aim high and that you wrote down all your wishes. That way, you won’t be distracted in the middle of a negotiation by a new idea of what you’d like. The written plan’s purpose is to keep you focused and prepared at all phases of the deal.
  • Your Want is the place where you think the negotiation is most likely to end up on the basis of all the facts and circumstances in the situation. In other words, this is the likely compromise outcome. You might hope for a $65,000 offer, but you understand through research that it’s more likely come in closer to $60,000.
  • Your Walk Away point is just that: the point at which you bow out of the negotiation you are in and move on. Be sure to establish your Walk Away point before you walk into the negotiating room. This is where your true power in the negotiation lies, Donaldson writes. “Having a well-defined Walk-Away point levels the playing field no matter how unbalanced the bargaining power may appear to an outsider. The reason is simple: The other side would not be in the room with you unless you had something they wanted. They may want it a little or they may want it a lot, but they want it or they wouldn’t be there.”

With your Walk Away point defined, you have decided before you start the negotiation that you will not give up the things they want unless they make it worth your while and you have decided exactly what that means. They can yell and scream and threaten and cajole, but they are not getting what they want unless they meet a certain threshold price. That’s power.”

Understanding what you want, what you realistically expect to happen, and your walk away point can give you the confidence to enter any negotiation. One of the ways in which we give up power in negotiations, Donaldson says, is that we let fear guide our actions. He writes that FEAR is simply False Evidence Appearing Real.

He writes, “Believing the other person has all the power or believing that bad things will happen if you put your own desires on the table or believing that your world will come to an end if you walk away from a negotiation are all pieces of false evidence.” You have power in every negotiation, because you always have options. They may not be ideal outcomes, but you have the power to decide for yourself.

How do you feel about negotiation? Have you used these tactics? Leave a comment and let me know.

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