How to Negotiate and Get What You Deserve

Do you want to know what a typical day of a Helsinki-based young professional looks like? I start my morning with a never-ending debate with my alarm. I feel like I deserve another 5 minutes of sleep and my alarm is set to achieve just one mission – making me get up from bed. I get ready for work thinking which clothes to wear, get out of my apartment, go and grab a latte from a close-by café that used to have a morning deal for the coffee; I’ve managed to extend my personal discount
by being a loyal customer.



I get to work, where I have a call with a candidate regarding his salary expectations. Then I handle this expectation with a client and try to find common ground between the client and the candidate. At lunch time, some of our team wants to go for sushi and others for burgers, and we end up going to 6K that has some amount of different restaurants in the same place. After work, my friend wants to take me for a beer, but I feel like exercising – we end up going to play some squash and enjoying a “recovery drink” afterwards. Another good day of negotiating behind.


When thinking about negotiating we often imagine two sneaky sales people in nice tailor-made suits discussing fiercely and then shaking hands and signing a paper. We think negotiation is for business people or lawyers, who want to get more sales and a new deal, but what we don’t realize is that negotiation happens all the time. For everyone. We negotiate with ourselves, with our colleagues and with our spouses. We are trying to maximise the benefits or trying to find the best solution or common ground all the time. Negotiation is making decisions and justifying them. Let me explain some of my latest thoughts on negotiating.


From Hostility to Hospitality


About a week ago I was watching a TED Talk from William Ury, the guy behind the book Getting to Yes, where he told about his work as a mediator in international conflicts.


The first remarkable learning was the fact that you should move from hostility to hospitality; always try to become a friend with your negotiation partner. It’s a lot easier to get to an agreement with your wife if you two both know what you’re fighting for e.g. spend more quality time together.



As in personal life, it’s as important in business negotiations to rather sit on the same side of the table than to place yourself against the other person and make them understand what it is that you looking for. More business? A new deal? Enhancing your marriage?


Make Sure You Know Your Priorities


Regarding the previous point it’s important to add- always set a goal for the negotiation. Your favourite coffee shop wants to sell for a higher price but keep their loyal latte buyer, and you want to get your latte with the discounted fee? Aim on finding a fair deal for both sides.


Very rarely a good negotiation starts with fixed mindsets.


Explain the reasoning behind your offer; “I would love to buy this latte from this coffee shop, because I really love the Peruvian dark roast you have here.” Now, listen to theirs:

“You know, we would love to keep on serving you the best coffee in town, but this deal is not a very good deal for us. We end up not covering the cost of production with this price.” How about you pay a bit extra for your latte and keep on promoting the best coffee in town?


This approach is all about offering the best possible solution for both sides, which means that you most likely can’t maximize your profits, but you can find the point where both of you gain an alternative solution, which offers mutual winning for both sides.


There are, however, certain things you don’t and can’t give up in a negotiation. My team loves burgers, but there are a couple of vegetarians. A priority for them is that you can get good vegetarian burgers at the lunch place we choose. In the same way when negotiating a deal, I know there are certain things I can’t offer, but then there are also plenty of things that can be modified for a client’s needs.


It is crucial to identify those unnegotiable matters, and then those that can be modified. Furthermore, if your negotiation partner, let it be your child, who wants to get a pet, asks for something that you’re not sure you can commit to, a good practice is to tell them that you will have to talk with your partner in order to decide.


External Eye



Sometimes, especially in a heated negotiation, we might be unable to see clearly what would be a fair agreement and would offer the most for mutual winning. Imagine for example the aforementioned salary negotiation between an employer and an employee.


Sometimes it is important to call for a third party, who can help you to reach a fair agreement. Very often their role is to help you to take a step back and see the facts and figures. This third person can be anyone: a neighbour, parent, boss or in some cases a professional mediator. They can help you with realizing your interests, to define them and maybe to see the underlying problems or challenges.


Sometimes the matter we argue about is not what it looks like. Are you defending your price because it makes sense, or just simply because you feel like winning if the customer agrees to that? Are you arguing with your sister because she got a nicer Christmas present or because you feel like she always got more attention from your parents? Define the real deal.


What You Get is All Up To You


I’ve heard many people say that a good sales man even sells ice to Inuits. Maybe, but a good negotiator is able to carefully identify a common ground where both parties can obtain the best possible result and added value. They are able to position themselves on the same side as the opponent, they clearly define their priorities and they can identify when they might need an external party to help them with the negotiation. They set a goal for the negotiation to find a solution that profits both sides, they justify their reasoning and listen.

I don’t think Inuits need ice, and I don’t see the added value for both sides in that deal. So, next time you have that salary raise negotiation with your boss, or you want to bargain for a bag at the flea market or have an argument with your loved one-remember that you are negotiating. And everything, including loyalty, profit and success is grown by a fair negotiation.


Maybe what you deserve is what you give.