Whether it’s getting the best price on a new car or working out the terms of a business deal, negotiation is vital to successful outcomes and agreements. Knowing how to negotiate effectively is a critical life skill.
But it requires a planned strategy to ensure the best possible results for all involved. To make the most out of each negotiation, you must define clear goals before entering into negotiations.
The SMART framework provides an effective tool for establishing objectives in the talks. This post will cover some concrete examples of SMART goals for better negotiation.
What is a SMART Goal?
Goals for effective negotiation must be developed using the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based) method.
Still trying to understand? Here is a deeper dive into each SMART component:
- Specific: You should be as precise as possible when developing your goals. That way, there will be greater clarity about the expected outcomes.
- Measurable: Negotiators should make their goals quantifiable; this criterion is crucial to achieving success.
- Attainable: Make sure all your goals are realistic but also challenging enough. It would be best to pursue objectives that fall within your current capabilities.
- Relevant: Consider aligning your negotiation goals with your personal core values. Tying them to the bigger picture will keep you energized and motivated throughout the journey.
- Time-based: An end date for goal completion will help foster a sense of urgency. You’ll be able to remain accountable for meeting your desired goals.
By fulfilling these SMART criteria during the goal-setting process, you’ll take the necessary steps to become a successful negotiator in your career and life.
13 SMART Goals Examples for Effective Negotiation
Here are 13 examples of SMART goals for successful negotiation:
1. Establish a Baseline
“I will establish a baseline for my negotiations before starting the process. This should include what is expected from each side, what compromises can be made, and what the final agreement should look like.”
Specific: The SMART goal is clear. You’ll strive to establish a baseline for negotiations.
Measurable: The individual can review what each side expects and the level of compromise that can be made.
Attainable: This goal is realistic if the negotiator has done their research and knows what they are looking for in terms of an agreement.
Relevant: Recognize that knowing the expectations and limits is essential before entering negotiations.
Time-based: It is implied the goal statement is ongoing, so you will pursue it whenever you negotiate.
2. Identify Your Leverage
“I will research and identify at least three areas of leverage I can use in negotiations by the end of one month. Knowing my options will help me make better decisions and get the best results for everyone involved.”
Specific: The goal is well-defined, stating precisely the objective and how to achieve it.
Measurable: By researching and identifying at least three areas of leverage, you can track progress throughout the process.
Attainable: It is feasible to research different leverage areas in negotiations.
Relevant: This goal is appropriate for negotiating because it helps you boost your chances of success and obtain better results.
Time-based: There is a one-month timeline to meet success.
3. Create Win/Win Solutions
“My goal is to devise solutions that satisfy both sides of the negotiating table within the next month. I want to find a compromise that works for both parties and allows each to take something away from the negotiations.”
Specific: The goal explicitly focuses on creating win/win solutions.
Measurable: You could evaluate the result of the negotiation to determine if it was win/win.
Attainable: Finding a compromise that works for both parties is achievable within the given time frame.
Relevant: This particular goal is relevant to better negotiations.
Time-based: Goal completion is anticipated within the next month.
4. Research Other Party’s Needs
“I will ascertain the other party’s needs, wants, and goals by researching their company policies and examining the outcome of the previous negotiation to better understand their position for the two months ahead.”
Specific: You have research activities that you can use to dig into the other party’s needs.
Measurable: You can check your progress by examining the outcome of the negotiation.
Attainable: This is possible by proactively researching the other party’s company policies.
Relevant: This goal is directly related to successful negotiations.
Time-based: You should expect a better understanding of the other party’s needs in two months.
5. Determine Appropriate Timing
“I will assess the best time to negotiate with a client based on their availability and my workload and other commitments. I want to ensure that I don’t rush negotiations so that everyone is happy with the outcome.”
Specific: The aim is to assess the best timing for negotiations.
Measurable: By making a timeline of your commitments and the client’s availability, you can measure the best time to negotiate.
Attainable: Finding the appropriate timing for yourself and your clients is absolutely doable.
Relevant: Timing is essential in negotiation, as rushing negotiations can lead to a less-than-ideal outcome.
Time-based: You will strive to determine the best time for negotiations on an ongoing basis.
6. Avoid Making Assumptions
“I want to avoid making assumptions about the other party’s needs and expectations anytime during the negotiating process. Instead, I will take notes and repeat key points or commitments to ensure clarity and accuracy.”
Specific: This goal is about not making assumptions but rather clarifying statements.
Measurable: This can be evaluated by looking back at notes and ensuring the accuracy of the conversation.
Attainable: Not making assumptions is much more achievable than having perfect clarity.
Relevant: An accurate understanding of both parties’ needs and expectations is vital for successful negotiation.
Time-based: This goal does not have a specific deadline but is meant to be regularly applied during the negotiation.
7. Listen and Observe Carefully
“Over the course of 8 months, I’ll practice active listening and observation during negotiations, taking time to consider the other party’s point of view. By taking the time to understand their perspective, I can open up channels of communication leading to a better negotiation process.”
Specific: This goal outlines what you need to do (practice active listening and observation) and how long it should take to complete (8 months).
Measurable: You can count the times you practice active listening and observation over time.
Attainable: Taking the time to understand the other party’s perspective is possible with some intentional effort.
Relevant: You can understand the negotiation process better by actively observing and listening.
Time-based: Goal completion is set for 8 months.
8. Practice Negotiating Skills
“I will attend a negotiation training course by the end of 6 months to improve my negotiating skills. I’ll also hone my skills in a real-world setting by negotiating with at least three different people.”
Specific: This SMART goal outlines the person’s objective and how they will accomplish it.
Measurable: Ensure you attend the negotiation course and schedule negotiations with at least three people.
Attainable: Six months is enough time to attend a course and conduct negotiations in the real world.
Relevant: Developing negotiation skills is a vital part of any career in your life.
Time-based: The statement should be reached after 6 whole months.
9. Learn How to Walk Away
“I will practice walking away and knowing when to cut my losses by the end of this month. I want to learn to recognize when a negotiation is not going my way and walk away when necessary.”
Specific: You will learn when to walk away in certain negotiations.
Measurable: Count how often you leave a negotiation every week.
Attainable: This is reachable because it involves learning and practicing a skill.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to effective negotiations as it helps you recognize when a negotiation isn’t working out in your favor.
Time-based: You have until the end of this month for goal attainment.
10. Develop Counterstrategies
“I will develop counterstrategies that enable me to respond quickly and effectively whenever I encounter a difficult negotiation, such as when talking with a more experienced negotiator. I hope to have three counterstrategies in place in two months.”
Specific: The goal states the objective, what will be done to achieve it, and the timeline.
Measurable: You could track the number of counter strategies developed.
Attainable: This goal is achievable since developing three counter strategies in two months is realistic.
Relevant: This is pertinent to developing negotiation skills for yourself.
Time-based: The timeline for success is two months.
11. Manage Your Emotions
“To keep my emotions in check during negotiation meetings, I’ll strive to implement a strategy to recognize when I’m particularly emotional. I will practice methods of responding calmly and appropriately after 6 weeks.”
Specific: The negotiator has identified a precise goal of managing emotions.
Measurable: By using the strategy and practicing methods of responding calmly, you can assess goal progress.
Attainable: Modifying emotions can be tricky, but the negotiator has identified a realistic timeline to reach success.
Relevant: Effectively managing emotions during negotiation meetings can benefit the negotiator greatly.
Time-based: The goal of managing their emotions is to be achieved within 6 weeks.
12. Ask the Right Questions
“I want to always ask the right questions during negotiation to get the most out of each interaction. For four months, I’ll strive to research each negotiation topic before the meeting and prepare a list of questions that can be used during the conversation.”
Specific: This goal entails doing research and preparing questions.
Measurable: You could count the times you researched and prepared a list of questions.
Attainable: Doing research and preparing questions are definitely achievable.
Relevant: Asking the right questions will help you get the most from each negotiation interaction.
Time-based: You should strive to achieve your goal within four months.
13. Remain Flexible
“To remain successful in negotiations, I will keep an open mind and stay flexible if my plan doesn’t work out the way I expected. I’ll remain open to new ideas and feedback from all parties so we can come together on an agreeable settlement for everyone.”
Specific: This goal is evident because you want to remain open and flexible during negotiations.
Measurable: Make sure you reflect on how you handled different negotiations and if you used the strategies discussed.
Attainable: Keeping an open mind and being flexible is a reasonable goal.
Relevant: This is a pertinent goal because successful negotiations require compromise and flexibility.
Time-based: There is no exact end date for this particular goal, but you will ideally encourage flexibility on an ongoing basis.
Effective negotiation is an essential skill that can be enhanced with enough practice. By establishing well-defined goals, you will be able to enter any negotiation with confidence.
And as you become more comfortable negotiating and setting SMART goals, you’ll find the process easier and more successful each time. So go forth and get creative regarding your negotiations.
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