Negotiation skills are vital for situations where your goals conflict with someone else’s goals. In the workplace, this could be negotiations with an employer for salary, benefits or other job details. It also includes price negotiations with customers and suppliers. Effective negotiation, or win-win negotiation, is the ability to reach a conclusion which is mutually beneficial to both parties.
To carry out a successful negotiation, proper preparation is necessary. This is especially important when a major disagreement needs to be resolved. The following are some things to consider before you begin negotiating:
- Goals – Decide what you’d like to accomplish as a result of the negotiations. In addition, try to figure out what the other party wants.
- Trades – Think about what you and the other party have to offer. What do you have that they need and vice versa?
- Alternatives – In case you fail to reach a mutual consensus with the other party, what are your options? Are these alternatives favorable or unfavorable? What are the future implications for failing to reach a consensus?
- Relationships – Consider your relationship with the other party. Is your relationship one-off or ongoing? This will determine how the negotiations will be conducted.
- Power – Reflect on the power equation in the relationship. Who wields the most power? Who controls most of the resources? In this regard, who would be the biggest loser if a consensus is not reached?
- Expected outcomes – Think about the outcomes of similar negotiations in the past. This will give you an idea of what to expect. In addition, consider the expectations of other stakeholders.
- Consequences – Consider the consequences of losing or winning the negotiation for you as well as the other party.
Guidelines for successful negotiation
Negotiation is about examining your position as well as the other party’s, with the aim of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. Here are some guidelines for successful negotiation:
1. Active listening
When engaged in negotiation, be sure to listen actively to the other party. Besides hearing the verbal communication, learn to read the body language. Active listening allows you to learn about the other’s needs, and thus show how you are able to meet them. It also enables you to find areas of compromise.
2. Verbal communication
As a negotiator, you should learn how to verbalize your case clearly from the onset. Let the other party know what you want and take time to explain your reasoning. Failing to state your case clearly from the beginning could cause misunderstanding and place you at a disadvantage.
3. Emotional control
At times negotiations can get frustrating, thus making it easy for one to lose control of their emotions. For instance, a salesman negotiating with a customer could lose control due to the inability to reach a compromise. However, getting emotional during a negotiation could result in a breakdown of communication. Therefore, it is very important for a negotiator to keep calm during negotiations.
Every negotiation is based on the trust that each of the parties involved will make good their agreements and promises. Therefore, before entering a negotiation, make sure you are willing to follow through on your promises when the bargaining ends.
Learning how to negotiate effectively will prevent other people from taking advantage of you. In addition, it will help you get what you need from other people without manipulating them.