How to take the Fear out of Negotiating?

A crucial part of my role as a Buyer involves negotiating, at early stages of my career this was terrifying? I would imagine a tense exchange followed by the stronger of the two parties effectively winning!

Negotiating isn’t just something I did when working on cost prices, it was an everyday occurrence from agreeing a dead line with my design team to who was going to cook dinner that evening.

I tended to shy away from anything face to face as I expected it to be very uncomfortable and stressful, I would negotiate over email and avoid face to face discussions, or I would agree with something and then walk away feeling like I didn’t get what I want or made a compromise that wasn’t at all in my favour.

After a couple of seasons, we had a tight critical path to meet and the only way to achieve this was to have a face to face negotiation in China with my supplier, I was terrified!
I decided that the best course of action for me was to prepare, I worked out what I needed to achieve, and I also researched influencing factors such as fabric prices and labour costs. Armed with this knowledge alone filled me with some confidence as I knew what I needed and the reasons why this was achievable.

I had also built up a relationship with my supplier which was beneficial as they understood my personality, I’m not a stereotypical ‘lady buyer’, I also understood how they liked to work, this became a very respectful discussion and in the end both parties could leave feeling they have achieved what they needed to.

This is one positive example but there have been many trickier situations, however once I started to practice and achieved results my confidence began to grow. As my career progressed and I tried out different techniques I started to realise what worked well for me.  I also learnt to tailor my style depending on the person I was negotiating with. Don’t get me wrong I still feel nervous sometimes.

Negotiating involves building relationships, understanding the person you are working with, and using knowledge as a tool to bring your side of the proposal to the table. This takes practice and most importantly finding what works well for you.



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