Negotiation involves two or more people finding an acceptable solution to a shared problem. Successful negotiators control the process and come away with a result they are satisfied with. Negotiation isn’t confined to “big decisions” though. When working with others, we spend much of our time negotiating—even if it’s just deciding whose turn it is to buy the coffee. So, what are the skills you need to negotiate well?
Preparation is responsible for 90% of negotiating success. The more prepared you are before a negotiation, the more likely negotiation results will be acceptable for all parties involved. Preparation means having all the information you can gather. And it means thinking about the negotiation process from the beginning to the end, so you’re ready for any eventuality.
Resist the common urge to think about what you will say next while your counterpart is talking. Instead, listen carefully to their arguments, then paraphrase what you believe they said to check your understanding. Not only are you likely to gain valuable information, but the other party may mimic your exemplary listening skills.
3. Ask Good Questions
You can gain more in integrative negotiation by asking lots of questions. But you need to ask ones that are likely to get helpful answers. Avoid asking “yes or no” questions and leading questions such as “Isn’t that a great idea?” Instead, craft neutral questions that encourage detailed responses such as “Can you tell me about the challenges you’re facing this quarter?”
4. Verbal Communication
Skilled negotiators must be able to communicate clearly and efficiently to the other party during the negotiation. If the negotiator does not state their case clearly, it can lead to misunderstanding and an unfavourable result. An effective negotiator must have the skills and tact to clarify their desired outcome, without alienating the other person.
Good negotiators need patience to focus on gaining an agreement on all the parts of the contract. You need time to understand what exactly is being offered and what the risks are. With more time, you can discover strengths and weaknesses. The bottom line is that patience brings more information to the table.
6. Interpersonal Skills
Strong interpersonal skills are essential for effective negotiations. This includes in formal situations and in less formal or one-to-one negotiations. Interpersonal skills range from communication and listening to attitude and deportment. Interpersonal skills come naturally to some people, while others have to work at cultivating them.
7. Problem Solving
Individuals with problem-solving skills are already one step ahead in the negotiation game. Problem identification does not stop when you enter negotiations though. Listen carefully to what the other person is saying to identify additional irritants or issues. And listen for clues on how to satisfy a specific need using alternative consideration.
Being a good negotiator requires a set of skills and knowledge to reach the required objectives. Think about what you’re trying to achieve, how important “total” success is, and how willing you are to compromise. Moreover, keep in mind how much you need to maintain an ongoing relationship with the other people involved.