Contrary to what some people will argue, negotiating isn’t about winners and losers. It’s about building relationships.

If you walk into a negotiation determined to win at any cost, you could be setting yourself up for difficulties down the road. Ask your boss for a raise with an argumentative attitude, and your daily work life will suffer. If you’re a small business owner hiring an ad agency, doggedly fighting for a discount on your bill could potentially result in a grumpier agency who values your business less than their other clients.

Nothing exists in isolation and every interaction matters in the business world. But at the same time, you don’t want to set yourself up for getting trampled over and low-balled your entire career. So where’s the middle ground?

Here are some tips for being a better negotiator, without having people think you’re a jerk.

Make the first bid.

If a number hasn’t been brought up yet, many people naturally hesitate about making the first offer. What if you accidentally lowball yourself? What if you offend the person by starting with a ridiculously low bid?

But research has shown that negotiated outcomes often skew to the party who made the first bid. Naturally, this first bid will incline toward the person who made it. To illustrate: if you’re growing apples in your backyard and decide to sell a basket of them, and someone offers you one dollar, maybe you ask them to double their price, and get two dollars. But if you ask for five dollars off the bat, you’re more likely to get three or four. By making the first bid, you’re setting the tone for the rest of the conversation.

Have a best- and worst-case scenario in mind—but don’t express it.

It’s a good idea to have a price range in mind for whatever you’re negotiating over. If you’re selling a basket of apples, maybe you’re hoping for anywhere from three to five dollars. That way, you ask for five, but if you settle for three, you’re still happy. If you get offered two, you’ve already decided it’s too low.  

But be careful—if you tell your negotiating partner this range, they will immediately glom onto the number that they prefer. If you tell them you think your apples are worth between three and five dollars, they’ll say, “Sure, three sounds great.”

Keep your range clear in your head, but don’t make it public.  

Use nonverbal communication—including silence.

I’m sure you know all about the virtues of nonverbal communication—body language has been a key tool for communication for longer than verbal communication has even existed. Steely glares, puffed-up chests, open smiles and bowed heads all have their places in modern body language.  

All this holds true in business negotiations, of course. You might not want to cross your arms, for example, for fear of seeming too staunch and defensive. Open body language could help make people more inclined to concede to your side of the negotiation.

But beyond even just body language, silence is a powerful tool. In negotiations, both sides have reasons for their decisions, even if the other side doesn’t know what that reason is. People tend to get uncomfortable in silence—that can create an opportunity to stay silent and let them fill the awkward silence with continued talking. They might tell you something valuable that informs your decisions, allows you to assuage one of their concerns or concede an element to reach a compromise.

Take time to understand their position.

Instead of nodding away at what the other person is saying, actually listen to what they have to say. Understand why they’re taking this stance, and the negotiation will go a lot smoother.

This is a good rule of thumb in life, generally, but especially in negotiating: instead of responding to phrases with “I know, I know,” try repeating their points back to them. People appreciate hearing their own words—it makes them more likely to feel heard.

In fact, this may even help you understand their stance, which could make negotiating down your own side easier to stomach.

Use the power of numbers.

If you’re not convinced about the outcome of a negotiation, you’re not confident in deciding under pressure, or you want to strengthen your position, a good tactic is to make your side seem bigger by referencing other people.

It’s easy to overwhelm one other person in a conversation, especially in the absence of others. If you’re at the end of a negotiation but you’re still not sure, it’s a good tactic to say, “Let me run this by someone”—your wife, business partner, colleagues, friends, anyone. If the other person is worried about a worse outcome, they might drop their stance then and there; at the very least it will give you a chance to regroup and consider the deal from a fresh perspective.

The same logic applies to instances where you might be arguing on behalf of others, or if you have anecdotal evidence to back up your side of the deal. If you refer to the size of the group you represent, or reference authority figures or others who rely on you, it can make your arguments sound less self-serving and embolden your side.

People hate negotiating. Use that.

Nobody really enjoys going back and forth, often repeating the same points, rarely understanding the other person’s perspectives. It’s natural to want to wrap up a negotiation as soon as possible.

You can use that to your advantage. Patience is key. For starters, the person who concedes early is more likely to concede more than they want. They might figure that the negotiation simply isn’t worth their time and call it a day or the non-confrontational part of them will tell them to give up.

In reality, you don’t need to be argumentative to be an effective negotiator. You just need to implement these six helpful tips to improve your communications and relationships—ensuring a win-win scenario on both sides of the table.