Whether you’re negotiating with a potential client or partner, a disgruntled customer or an employee, there’s a right and wrong way to negotiate. The right way: Create a win-win result where everyone feels satisfied and positive about the relationship. The wrong way: Focus on getting what you want at the expense of everyone else. You may win the battle, but you’ll lose the war. So how can you create win-win negotiations? Here are four tips.

  1. ???????????????????????????Know your limits. What are you prepared to concede and what is non-negotiable? Knowing this going in will help you negotiate more effectively. For instance, in dealing with an angry customer, you may be willing to concede to waiving a return fee or giving a partial discount, but not willing to comp the whole transaction.
  2. Listen—really listen—to the other side. After all this time spent thinking about what you want from the negotiation, your mind is buzzing with information. But to negotiate successfully, you’ve got to quiet it down so you can pay attention to what the other person is saying. Listen for the unspoken desires, such as wanting to feel important or wanting to be treated fairly. Often, what isn’t said is what matters most.
  3. See the big picture. Don’t focus so much on this specific negotiation that you lose sight of the long term. If gaining what you want from the negotiation means losing a customer, is that worth it? Perhaps it’s better to make more concessions than you planned if the ultimate outcome will be worth it.
  4. Be patient. Take time to think through your statements and weigh your options. Don’t be afraid of silence—if you feel the need to fill every moment with talk, you’ll likely end up giving too much away. You may also need to be patient enough to table the negotiation for now and come back to it later, when both parties have had time to think or to cool down.

By following these four tips, you’ll find your negotiations going more smoothly and leading to better results for all involved.