This week marks one year since I published my book, “A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done.” What a journey it’s been! Along the way, I’ve learned from my readers and wanted to share an additional negotiating tactic they inspired me to think about. I call it the “Sixth Tool” of negotiating.
Before I get to that, I want to express my gratitude for everything else that’s come out of this experience: the emails, letters and stories from people of how my book or keynote message helped them. The woman who emailed me after hearing my negotiation message, went in and asked for what she wanted with her boss and got it. The recent college graduate who found the courage to make the ask after reading my book. The business leader who shared how he learned to embrace the power of the pause. The moments are endless.
I absolutely love what I get to wake up and do every day. I am very thankful because I am learning every day and I am excited for what’s ahead.
Learning relies on fearlessness—the knowledge that we need to go out and get what we need to know, especially in fear-provoking situations like negotiations.
This past year taught me how much I love stoking this fearlessness in others and having the conversation that led to this blog about the Sixth Rule of Negotiation.
The First Five Rules of Negotiation
The five tools of negotiation are covered in a fun way in my book video:
- Set the Stage
- Find Common Ground
- Ask with Confidence
- Embrace the Pause
- Know When to Leave
These tools are designed to get the most out of every negotiation. Effective negotiation is rooted in establishing trust and building relationships—one conversation at a time.
It was a little shocking when an audience member approached me after a keynote to tell me, “You missed one.” While that was the boldest reminder that there is more to teach about negotiation, I realized throughout the past year that wisdom and experience shared by others pointed to a Sixth Tool of Negotiation.
The Sixth Tool
The Sixth Tool does not fit into the sequence, but rather threads through and influences each of the five steps of negotiating: Keep multiple solutions in mind always.
While my book was a deep dive into the power of choice, it did not clarify the power of awareness throughout the process like the Sixth Tool does. It is an open mindset that makes your negotiating skill greater and will give you more confidence to explore.
Keeping multiple solutions in mind throughout negotiations makes you stronger, not weaker. The “my way or the highway” attitude isn’t negotiating; it’s practically bullying.
By keeping multiple solutions in mind, you accept that there are, or could be, more than one right answer, and coming to that answer requires collaboration. The language around this tool is, “We could do this or we could….” And either option is beneficial to both sides.
One simple example is something I, and many parents, do with our kids: “You can either leave your bike in the driveway and I’ll give it to charity, or you can put it away and ride it tomorrow.”
What that looks like in a contract negotiation: “We can do $5 million salary with $1 million in bonus potential or we can do $4 million with $2.5 million in bonus potential.”
Multiple solutions, used with the Five Tools, allow the relationship to grow, for communication to continue, for the negotiation to lead to a partnership and greater empathy. The multiple choice mindset understands that all of us like to be part of the decision, not told what to do. Most of us negotiate with people we know and will continue to work with, so the Sixth Tool is hugely important to keeping the bridges open, not burning them.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Great negotiators are nimble, fearless thinkers who keep multiple solutions in mind always. You know you have mastered the Sixth Tool of Negotiation when you are thinking of short- and long-term positives and negatives in every scenario, and you understand that your options may expand as more information becomes available. You value flexibility because it works to the benefit of both parties in negotiations. By keeping multiple solutions in mind, you are equipped to drive collaboration, more engagement, greater connection. This Sixth Tool helps you build relationships for better results, one conversation at a time.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach businesspeople the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.