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  • Erin Gleason Alvarez

Year End Negotiation Strategies

Hi there negotiators,

We have approximately three weeks before the end of 2021 (though the last week is a bit of a wash for many of us).

Before the last quarter closes out, there can be a laundry list of items requiring your attention and negotiation skills. Here are some ideas on how to manage the pressure and the exceptionally quick passage of time that comes with December negotiations.

Understand what is - or needs to be - on the table.

As the year winds down, you may be steeped in discussions over year-end bonuses and performance reviews (for you and/or your team or organization). Finalizing deals that will be important for 2022 is also a significant area of focus for end of year (including strategic partnerships, vendor management, signing new clients, and so forth).

Take stock of the negotiations you have ahead of you this month, and identify those that must be addressed before the holidays take over.

Set SMART goals.

Setting SMART goals is an ideal way to promote efficiency in your negotiations and to ensure that you are clear on objectives. SMART goals are:

  • Specific: What do you want or need? Specifically. What is the ideal outcome for you?

  • Meaningful: For the goal to be meaningful, it must have some significance – for you and the person with whom you are negotiating. This is your why.

  • Attainable: Ensuring that your goals are attainable, or that they have some basis in reality is also important. This is where mindfulness also comes in... make sure that any challenges that you identify are real challenges, ok? As you work through this, continue to notice how you are feeling. And when the difficult emotions come in, breathe into it. These are self-preservation instincts that are trying to help… but they often do not help in circumstances like this. So best to let them go.

  • Results-based: This means always having an eye towards the best outcome for you. One that you can measure success according to metrics that you create for yourself. Writing out what your goals are and what you actually need will help to clarify the discussion once you are at the negotiation table.

  • Time sensitive: Know with specificity when you will require your needs to be met and be sure to share this during the negotiation conversation.

Do not rush.

To me, everything feels rushed in December. From managing the professional winding down of the year to preparing for celebrations (and then also partaking).

Pace yourself using the mindfulness practice of anchoring. Mindful anchors are reminders that you set up for yourself to remind you to remain calm, to breathe, recognize difficulties as they arise –but without judgement. Think of a couple habits that are common in your days… taking a drink of water, looking at your phone, checking the time… Train yourself to recognize these little events as reminders of where you are and what you are doing. So that if the pressure does start to mount, you can catch it by setting up these anchors for yourself in advance.

Take breaks.

A few moments of quiet meditation helps to calm the mind, regain your center, and refocus on what's really important. And these are very important things to cultivate in order to experience successful negotiations.

To help you along, listen to our complimentary Negotiation Break Meditation.

Reflect on lessons learned.

At the end of any negotiation, it is important to have a look back and assess what worked and what did not. This will help you as you move forward in future exchanges. In thinking about your experience of the negotiation, reflect on:

  • What you expected to happen. Have a re-look at your negotiation plan to remind yourself of the plans you had laid out.

  • Then reflect on what actually happened. How well did you outline your goals? Were you able to address all of them? How was your assessment of the other person, and the likely areas where you’d have the most/least difficulty in the negotiation accurate?

  • Did you walk away form the discussion satisfied with the outcome? Why or why not?

  • Did the discussion go off the rails at any point? How did you handle it?

  • Are there aspects of the experience you felt more/less comfortable in? Why?

  • Did you uncover any habits or actions that you would not do again? Why?

  • What did they do that you thought effective? Is there a way for you to leverage any of their effective tactics going forward?

  • And if you used mindfulness, did it make a difference? Did you handle the discussion any differently than you did with out mindfulness?

Again, proceed without judgment here. This is not intended as an exercise in beating yourself up for missed opportunities, or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

It is a balanced assessment of what felt right to you, and what did not. See this as an opportunity to learn about yourself and how you can continue to hone your negotiation skills with each negotiation, something we must all do.

Let it go.

When all is said and done, let it go. Whether you are celebrating holidays or able to take time off at the end of the year, once these negotiations conclude don’t carry them with you to parties. Many of us have learned to work 24/7, which is not tremendously healthy or productive. December is filled with celebrations. So, it is ok to close down your laptop (and the thoughts circling round in your mind) and enjoy the season.

Thanks for reading,

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