Negotiation 101: Getting What you Want and Need

As we head into the end of the year, we’re often reflecting on the past year, and looking forward to the next!  Part of getting what you want is *asking* for it.  So, in that vein, let’s talk about how to ask for what you want, and get it.

A negotiation is between two parties, each of whom want something from the other.  If you’re negotiating with an employer, for example, the employer wants a hard-working, trustworthy, loyal employee, and the employee wants to receive fair value for what she or he offers.

Likewise, when negotiating in a business deal (or for anything else), each party wants something from the other.  If one party doesn’t want something from the other, you have no basis for negotiation.  But what you have -- that the other side wants -- might surprise you.

Determine What the Other Side Wants

So the first piece is to figure out – or ask – what the other person wants.  Once you know what they want, then you can figure out if you can give it to them.  At that point, the negotiation is simply a conversation about how what you want gets them what they want.

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For example, as an employer, they want a happy, productive employee because a) turnover within a company costs a lot of money, and b) a productive employee brings them value.  To the extent you can show the true value you bring and how you need to receive more compensation in order for them to get a happy, productive employee, then your company can consider it. 

However, if the company feels they can get better value elsewhere, or the cost of losing you isn’t a burden to them, then it’s up to you to show them otherwise.

Information is Power

In a negotiation, information is power, so the more you can gather – either through research or through careful listening – will benefit you.  I find in my negotiations that if I start by telling the other side what I want and why, and then ask them what they want and why, then we get off to a good start by exchanging information early on.

Most people think information is only power if you hoard it; I disagree.  To the extent you empower both sides to know what each others’ TRUE concerns are, the quicker you can get to a solution.

However, if you don’t say what you want, you’re not likely to get it.

If You Don’t Ask, You’re Happy

If you don’t ask for something different, those who have the power to give it to you may well assume you’re content with what you already have.  Similarly, in a negotiation, don’t leave concerns or desires unsaid.

As Latinos, we often assume if we work hard, we will be rewarded.  Unfortunately, if we don’t say what we want, others may assume that we are not seeking anything different and are perfectly content with what where we currently are.

If you want something, make sure to make yourself heard.

Be Empathetic and Solution-Oriented

In a negotiation, if you’re honestly trying to get the other side what they want, they are more likely to work to get you what you want.  This can’t be faked.

Know that a negotiation is an attempt to put BOTH parties in a better situation.  Therefore, the more that the other side realizes the negotiation is working toward a favorable goal for both parties, the more likely you will both get there. 

A Win-Win is Best!

All parties enter into all negotiations hoping for a better outcome than the situation they currently find themselves in.  The good news is that if someone enters into a negotiation with you, they WANT a better position, and they are willing to give something.

Good luck negotiating, and go get what you want!

Aurelia Flores is Senior Counsel at a Fortune 500 company and former Fulbright Fellow who graduated from Stanford Law School. Her website,, offers stories of success, along with resources and programs focused on Latino empowerment.


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