Top 4 tips on helping you improve your negotiation skills


Did you know? Most entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals shudder at the idea of meeting at a negotiation table? An interesting research threw up some common concerns with phrases like I know I will lose, I can’t push, what if the negotiation begins at a level I cannot even accept and so on. Negotiation besides being an art is also about being compassionate and thinking win-win and not I win alone.

Here are some helpful tips to help you develop your negotiating skills:

Tip #1: Negotiating Skills aren't merely a series of compromises


Most people negotiate using a zero sum process. They determine what they want, raise that 10 or 15 percent, and then engage is a series of compromises to obtain to a result. The effort is on the position they take, and claiming as much of that position for themselves as possible. Their mission is not to get a satisfactory deal for both parties. It is to win. Many call that, "being a tough negotiator." It is extremely stressful and can actually backfire. Understanding the importance of having a win-win negotiation is your key to success.

Tip #2: It is your people skills that can make the difference


First, you need to know how your behaviour affects others. Next, understand that everyone has their unique preferred way of communicating and it may not be your way. Effective skilled negotiators are those of us who can change their communication style to meet the needs of the listener. To maximize your negotiating skills, gain practice in not only recognizing the communicating style of others, but also in fully understanding your own tendencies and being flexible when necessary.

Tip #3: The most potent negotiating skill is listening


Being an effective communicator starts with being an outstanding listener. You learn the interests of the other party through listening. Some people are better at this than others, but the fact is that we are usually not good listeners. Most listen to reply, not to understand.

Effective questioning skills and listening skills can provide solutions to the negotiation problem. By getting the other party to talk, and listening to their replies, a positive message is sent. This greatly enhances trust and keeps tension low.

Tip #4: Develop a plan prior to negotiating


When I ask sellers or buyers on training skills sessions, I find that few people do any in-depth planning before negotiating. I am not referring to determining how much will be spent, how long to complete a project, or what their walk-away number might be. I am talking about detailed planning, which involves attempting to determine what the other side may want, and why.

What is our Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement? (BATNA)


This is vital to your negotiating skills development. You do not want to accept an outcome that is worse than what you may have done otherwise. Your BATNA is what you can or might do if an agreement cannot be reached. What you can accept has to be better than your BATNA. Otherwise, why negotiate?

Ask yourself what the other side's BATNA may be. Why are they negotiating with you? What is preventing them from doing it with someone else, or on their own?

Know your BATNA: Your personal power comes from the ability to walk away if you are unable to reach an agreement. Effective negotiators not only know when to walk away, but also how to walk away leaving the relationship intact. Prepare options for mutual gain: Be creative. Find unique ways for both sides to get their interests met. "What if we tried this?"

Listening is the most powerful negotiation skill: It will help you learn where your interests are shared with the other side, where they are in opposition, and get a satisfactory outcome.

Use the power of the draft: Always put your negotiated agreements in writing.

Changing the way you think about negotiating (joint problem solving versus a series of compromises where one party may win and one may lose) is the first step towards leveraging your negotiating skills towards enjoying better results. Developing a plan in advance of the actual negotiation will give the negotiator more confidence, and lead to better and more consistent results.