Negotiating is a vital part of our lives, yet in business it’s critical if you want to achieve success. Bad negotiation skills will cripple a company just as easily as losing important clients. To some people, negotiations are common sense; for the rest of us, they’re uncommon and they often end badly if you can’t master basic principles. Successful negotiations have nothing to do with luck or magic, so if you’re hoping for a miracle that’s not going to happen. It takes unblinking discipline, iron gut, and research to close a good deal, so do you think you have what it takes to succeed? The 3 real-life stories we’re about to reveal should motivate and teach you that negotiations are a lot more complicated than meets the eye.

It’s great to have a competing offer in negotiations because it gives you leverage

Our first real-life example focuses on Ted and his job at an entertainment company. He was offered an annual salary of $175k + bonus for a top position. He had an additional offer though, where he was offered an annual salary of $215k but without any bonuses. For personal reasons we’ll call these two companies A ($175k) and B ($215k). When company A heard that Ted had a better offer pending, they decided to raise the bar at $200k. It was a lot more than Ted anticipated, so without further negotiations he took the job offered by company A.

What’s there to learn from Ted’s story? – having leverage in negotiations can give you an advantage. If Ted didn’t have a better paid offer from company B, company A would have never offered to boost their initial offer. It was definitely a risky move considering company A was also offering a bonus, yet in business you can’t win if you’re not willing to take risks. That bonus could have sufficed but Ted kept on negotiating because he always knew that it company A rejected his offer, he had the offer from company B. This real-life story should make people understand that first offers can be negotiated in every domain. Whether we’re talking about salary negotiations, real estate deals, and so on, always remember that first offers are negotiable, as long as they don’t start on the wrong foot (e.g. outrageously high first offers).

Know the market and don’t back down

Michael worked as a project manager for an important consumer products company, and he was getting $60,000 per year. At the same time, he received another offer for $90,000 from a pharmaceutical company, but that job was paying $120,000. Fortunately, Michael knew that the second offer was too low so he decided to negotiate. He thought that if things turn south he could always go back to his current job. He struggled a bit but in the end he got what he wanted.

How? – Michael knew the market. It’s important to get yourself informed before accepting/declining/negotiating a work offer. Stay positive and speak on a friendly, polite tone (even if you’re thinking to reject the offer). Try not to get discouraged if a prospective employer doesn’t agree to your terms and maintain an upbeat attitude. In Michael’s case, he knew the market (and the company) very well before going to the interview. He was offered $90,000 but because he was informed, he was well-aware that the job was actually paying $120,000.

Body language can help you win

Linda was interviewing for an HR position in a multimedia company. She was offered $70k + 20 paid vacation but she a feeling a bit insecure because of her lack of experience. Unlike the other two candidates who were interviewing for the job, she knew how to control her emotions. They were mumbling a lot, sweating and doing all kinds of erratic gestures. When it was her time to speak, she decided to stay calm. Quick answers, short sentences, and a presentable attitude transformed Linda into a favorite candidate for the job.

Why? – Because interviewers wanted to hire someone who can deal with stressful situations. Body language is vital in business negotiations, and if you can’t control yourself, the job will go to the next candidate who can best deal with a challenging work environment.

Are these real-life stories motivating you in any way? Because they should; real people talking about their experiences and they way they dealt with negotiations is the best way of helping you get the big picture and succeed.