SUCCESSFUL negotiators are prepared negotiators.

Most people are not born to be great negotiators, but you learn at an early age how to get what you want.

By the age of two, a toddler knows how mummy and daddy tick and what it takes to get cuddled, a cookie, a car ride or his favourite toy.

When you grow up, the stakes get bigger.

You need to refine the “I want what I want when I want it” method.

The “winner takes all” theory works for babies, not adults.

After all, what you are saying is, “I want to be heard. Please listen to me. Respect my opinions.”

Here are five HEARD tips for a successful negotiation:

Homework

Before every negotiation, you should know as much as possible about “the other team”.

Do your homework before entering the negotiation room.

In this information-packed era, savvy negotiators “Google” the opponent’s website, check out the chief executive officer’s biodata, the corporate marketing philosophy, latest press releases, stock price, trade magazines, blogs, podcasts, webinars and other bits and bytes of research.

The major reason for doing homework is to understand your opponent’s needs, wants and bottom line.

Engage

In the initial meeting, engage the opponent and assess what you know and need to know.

Open-ended questions are tools to get the other team talking.

New information is gathered and other information is confirmed. Rapport and trust are established.

Active listening, note-taking and body-language reading are tools of a skilled negotiator.

Those who master reading what others are thinking and listen 80 per cent of the time leave the negotiation table with big wins.

Assess

Assess what you know and don’t know.

Test possible options using phrases like, “What would you say if...” or “Let’s imagine...”, and then let the other person talk.

Answering a question with a question is a technique you learnt at age two and still use in the world of grown-ups. “Why? How? When?”

Recommend

You are ready to make a proposal.

This is not called the “Godfather Step”. Don’t play Don Corleone and “make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse”.

There are debates over who should make the first offer.

Go with your gut. I have done it both ways and ended with wins.

Document

A deal is not finished until it is in writing. Accurate note-taking throughout the process makes this phase easy and painless.

Immediately after the discussions are finished and the handshake consummates the agreement, the meeting summaries or contracts need to be distributed.

Assign responsibilities to the participants.

You have just laid the foundation for the next meeting, negotiation or transaction.

If all parties were treated fairly and each leaves with some of what they needed, you have a win-win relationship. You will live to do another deal.