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Important negotiation skills you may need

Negotiations are usually dialogues where two or more parties work together to reach an agreeable solution for all involved.

What is negotiation?

Negotiation is a discussion used to settle disputes or reach agreements between two or more sides. Negotiation is a process of “give and take” resulting in a compromise where each side makes a concession for the benefit of everyone involved.

What are negotiation skills?

Negotiation skills are qualities that allow two or more parties to reach a compromise. Some of these include communication, persuasion, planning, strategizing and cooperating among others.

What skills do you need?

The skills you’ll need depend on your environment, your intended outcome and the people or businesses involved.

Here are some key negotiation skills that apply to many situations:

Communication

Essential communication skills include identifying both verbal and nonverbal ways to express yourself in an engaging way. Negotiators change their communication styles to meet the listener’s needs through establishing clear communication to avoid misunderstandings that could prevent them from reaching a compromise.

Ask good questions

One can gain more in integrative negotiation by asking lots of questions (those that are likely to get helpful answers). Avoid asking “yes or no” questions and leading questions, such as “Don’t you think that’s a great idea?” Use neutral questions that encourage detailed responses, such as “Can you tell me about the challenges you’re facing ?”

Active listening

Unlike passive listening which is the act of hearing a speaker without retaining their message, active listening ensures you’re able to engage and later recall specific details without needing information repeated.

Try a contingent contract

In cases where negotiators get stuck because they disagree about a certain scenario, try proposing a contingent contract. For example, if you doubt a contractor’s claims that he can finish your assignment in a given period of time, propose a contingent contract that will penalize him for late completion or reward him for early completion. If they believe their claims, they should have no problem accepting such terms.

Emotional intelligence

This refers to the ability to control personal emotions and recognize others’ feelings. Being conscious of the emotional changes during negotiation can allow you to remain calm and focused on the core issues. If you’re unsatisfied with the current negotiation, express the need for a break so you and the other party can return later with refreshed perspectives.

Expectation management

You should enter a negotiation with a clear goal, the other side also is likely to have its own defined expectations. If you believe you might not be able to agree to each other’s terms, you could try adjusting your expectations. Skilled expectation management involves maintaining a balance between being a firm negotiator and a collaborative one.

Patience

Some negotiations can take a long time to complete, occasionally involving renegotiation and counteroffers. Rather than seeking a quick conclusion, negotiators often practice patience to properly assess a situation and reach the best conclusion for their clients.

Adaptability

This is a vital skill for a successful negotiation. Each negotiation is unique, and the situation within a singular negotiation may change from one day to the next. For example, an involved party may change their demands abruptly. While it’s difficult to plan for every possible situation, a good negotiator can adapt quickly and determine a new plan, if needed.

Persuasion

This is the ability to influence others in a negotiation. It can help you define why your proposed solution is beneficial to all parties and encourage others to support your point of view. In addition, negotiators should be assertive as it allows one to express their opinions while respecting the other side’s perspectives.

Planning

Negotiations require planning to help you determine what one wants. One should consider the best possible outcome, the least acceptable offer and what they will do if an agreement isn’t reached. Planning skills are necessary for deciding how the terms will be carried out.

Integrity

Having strong ethical and moral principles, is an essential skill for negotiations. Being thoughtful, respectful and honest allows the other side to trust what you say. As a negotiator, you should be able to follow through on commitments. To demonstrate trustworthiness, avoid over-promising.

Rapport building

Building a rapport requires you to effectively communicate your goals but also understand the other side’s wants and needs. Rapport helps ease tensions, promotes collaboration and increases the likelihood of reaching an agreement. To build rapport, showing respect and using active listening skills are much needed.

Problem-solving

Negotiation requires the ability to see the problem and find a solution. If a price is too high, how can it be lowered? Being able to find unique solutions to problems may be the determining factor in compromise.

Decision making

You need to be able to react decisively. Keep in mind that your decisions may have lasting effects on yourself or your company. It is important to think through your options carefully without overthinking your decision. Going back and forth between your options might bring unnecessary stress.

Negotiation skills can help you develop your career, secure a higher salary or even meet basic business needs.

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