Image for article titled How to Negotiate Absolutely Anything, with expert strategist Victoria Medvec

Photo: Micaela Heck / Angelica Alzona

This week we’re stepping up our haggling with the help of negotiation expert Dr. Victoria Medvec. Vicki is the Adeline Barry Davee Professor of Management and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the CEO of Medvec and Associates, a consulting firm focused on sophisticated negotiation and strategic decisions. She regularly advises CEOs and other top managers on negotiations at companies such as McDonalds, JP Morgan Chase, Hewlett Packard and Microsoft.

In this week’s episode, you’ll hear Vicki advising us on how to negotiate absolutely any type of deal (personal, professional, or otherwise) using strategies like finding your BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement), negotiating as a multi – Issue versus Issue Issues and how to know when to leave.

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Highlights from this week’s episode

From the Victoria Medvec interview:

Why it is important to conduct the negotiation:

[Y]You want to make the first offer. You want to prepare and prepare. Understand the weaknesses of the other side’s alternatives so that you can set the right goal and gain tremendous benefit from leading a negotiation rather than following it. When I lead, I set the table with the topics we are discussing. When I lead and shape the discussion, I am actually in the relationship-promoting position because I make an offer and work out a reason and you have to react, react to criticism, in contrast to my criticism, you have to criticize your offer.

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How you can approach more personal negotiations (e.g. finding out with your partner where you would like to spend the holidays):

[I]In really close personal relationships, we often do the worst job at negotiating. We achieve results that leave a lot of money on the table. And the reason for this is that we don’t like conflict in these close relationships. Therefore, we will often choose the first acceptable solution rather than looking for the most optimal solution. So I would say two things: First, think of several subjects. So not a discussion about where we’re going to spend Thanksgiving, but a talk about the calendar for the coming year. Where’s Thanksgiving? Where is the fourth of July? Where is Christmas or New Year? Think of the calendar for the year and not the individual holiday with the right topics on the table. And then the second thing I would say is to create some options, different ways we could do this, and explore those options with your spouse or significant other. So don’t go into that single offer, come up with a number of alternatives and talk them through.

To know the “Five Fs” of negotiations:

Number one, we want to go in and we want to go First. We want focus on them … we want frame our offer right. So if we think that we want to get the other side to do something, to do something else, to leave the status quo, we might want to formulate more lossy language and what we want to maintain the status quo and what people are currently doing, we might want to highlight more gain language. Loss language is a language like risk threat, competitive pressure, vulnerability, danger. Whereas language is words like value, value proposition, savings, increase, improvement, improvement in benefits, benefits … Flexible. We want to do two things: maybe we make them multiple offers and always leave us room to give in because when we see that people are happier with the deal we made. And the fifth step is very important: no Weak offers. Too often people go in and ask. It’s like I’m in a department store and I see a shirt with a pocket and I say, “Could you take something off?” That is a weak offer. Make it clear to specific questions. Go to that person at the counter and say, “Oh, see the bag? This is really a shame … you just have to send it back and you won’t be able to take any commission on it. You know what? I would take it out of your hand Give me a 30 percent discount, OK? ”That’s a straightforward number.

To learn more of Vicki’s savvy negotiating skills, we recommend listening to the full episode.

Episode transcript: