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In Just 4 Words,The Handmaid’s Tale Offers Brilliant Negotiation Advice

In the Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred — a fertile woman forced to bear children for elite barren couples — finds a message scratched into her closet by a previous handmaid. It’s the Latin phrase: Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Loosely translated, it means: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

For small business owners, that message may truly resonate. They know it’s a constant grind, from marketing and networking to cash flow and capital. When I hear such a Latin phrase, I can’t help but think about the trepidation business owners face when it comes to negotiating things like employees’ salaries, contracts, or commercial leases, just to name a few.

My message to you today– don’t let the bastards grind you down at the negotiation table. There are basic negotiation principles that are universal, whether you’re negotiating the purchase price of a new piece of equipment or a government contract. In each case, neither party holds all the aces. Instead, negotiation proceeds, or should proceed on a rather level playing field. In theory, both parties want to win. Here are 8 actions to consider when negotiating:

1. Establish a relationship

People do business with people they like, which is gained through a relationship.

2. Be Transparent

You don’t have to put all of the cards on the table, but sharing some information sets a positive tone.

3. Focus on the win-win

Understanding what all parties need is essential to everyone agreeing to closing terms.

4. Don’t rush it

When you push too hard, you push it out of your life. There is a rhythm to everything.

5. Prepare

Preparation gives you the information you need to get more of what you want.

6. Listen

Listening causes the other party to feel respected and builds trust.

7. Know your target

By knowing your range, it will help you make better decisions and be clear about your limits.

8. Stay flexible

You want to be able to understand the whole terrain rather than a single path through the woods.

Next time, don’t be afraid to be the Offred at the table.

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