On the surface, real estate appears to be about property — homes, stores, facilities and tracts of land that show great potential as development projects. But in the end, it’s really all about people. And one of the keys to dealing successfully with people in business is a finely-honed knack for negotiation.
In the Toronto area, real estate developer Jordan Fletcher has been able to grow Gorge Holdings Inc. by learning and applying the basics of negotiation. In his business, a handshake seals many deals, a square look in the eye engenders confidence.
This skill has served him well when negotiating deals in the complex and challenging Ontario real estate market, including projects in St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Welland, Thorold, Niagara on the Lake, London Ontario, and throughout the Toronto area. His projects include residential, commercial, retail and industrial developments.
As author Christopher Voss has written: “Successful negotiation is not about getting to ‘yes’; it’s about mastering ‘no’ and understanding what the path to an agreement is.”
SCORE, a nonprofit organization that partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration, recently surveyed business owners to identify the most effective approaches to negotiation. From downtown Toronto to Niagara Falls, Jordan Fletcher has successfully employed many of these same winning strategies:
Make Your Goal a Win-Win Situation
A win-at-all-cost mindset is great on the football field, but counterproductive in negotiations. The goal is not to prove you are right, but to advance to the middle ground where most deals are struck. Demonstrating excessive confidence can come across as arrogance and compel the other party to dig into their position. Speak with conviction, but also humility and good humor.
Your goal is not a hollow victory, but a negotiated agreement in which everyone feels like a winner. Even better is when the other party not only is satisfied with the result, but also believes that the solution was his or her idea. By contrast, if the other party ends up feeling shortchanged or misled, your one-time victory will be just that — the other party may never want to do business with you again.
Position Yourself as a Solution
Focus on the other party’s needs first, then offer solutions that are tailored to those needs. Leading with your strengths could result in wasted effort, if the particular benefits you want to bring to a deal are irrelevant to the opposite side.
As one respondent told SCORE: “When we talk with potential customers about our predictive text software, we start by asking them what their use cases are and what kind of solution they are looking for. Once they describe their needs, we focus our demonstration on their use cases, making them excited about the opportunity to use our product.”
Identify and Label Their Fears
Christopher Voss advocates this concept in the popular book he co-authored, Never Split the Difference. It works like this: “Demonstrate to your counterpart that you see the nuances of their emotions. Proactively label their fears. Phrases like ‘It sounds like you are afraid of…’ ‘It looks like you’re concerned about…’ go a long way in disarming them. Also, list the worst things that the other party could say about you and say them before they can.”
Prioritize Empathy and Acknowledge the Other Party’s Needs
Empathy is not weakness. When you make an effort to see a particular issue from another party’s perspective, you not only win respect, but you also give yourself a better understanding of the issues at hand, and of the negotiating playing field. When you do value other perspectives, it tends to come across in the way you communicate; and that is a very positive resource to draw upon in any negotiation. Genuine empathy disarms defenses, wins hearts and seals deals.
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