Many people mistake negotiation for being an all-or-nothing battle in which each party attempts to increase their slice. But negotiations don’t need to be about getting more for yourself; rather, understanding everyone’s needs and working towards an agreement that works for all involved is what it should be about.
Effective negotiators always come prepared with a backup plan in mind, giving them a way to demonstrate their willingness to compromise without seeming weak or needy.
1. Active listening
As a negotiator, one of the most critical things you can do is actively listen to both parties involved. That means not interrupting, paraphrasing or asking questions but simply listening and engaging with them as speakers.
Negotiators should demonstrate an openness to changing their position and seek an outcome that benefits both parties, rather than adopting an adversarial, win-lose approach that could alienate partners or result in missed business opportunities for future dealings.
One effective approach to do this is the “foot-in-the-door technique,” in which you make an initial small request that increases the chances of agreement to your next one – for instance if one shirt costs $10 you might ask if two can be purchased for that same cost.
2. Communication and persuasion
Persuading others to take an action that you want them to is key for successful persuasion, so you need to understand both their audience and needs in order to tailor an approach accordingly. Your approach may differ depending on if your goal is convincing someone to purchase an item, sign a petition, volunteer at an event, or agree on certain terms during negotiations.
Before entering into negotiations, it’s beneficial to know your maximum justifiable price and what terms may make a deal viable for you. Establishing your expectations before beginning negotiations will help prevent misunderstandings and reduce time needed to reach an agreement.
Apply the “foot-in-the-door” strategy by making small requests to increase the odds of agreeing to larger ones later. This strategy draws upon reciprocity; people feel obliged to repay favors in kind.
3. Problem-solving and decision-making
Leaders must understand how to utilize collaborative problem-solving approaches when handling highly emotional or difficult negotiations. The process allows negotiators to see more objectively, while avoiding personal attachments, jealousy or ego trips that could hamper progress.
Under collaborative negotiation styles, both parties work towards reaching a common goal while seeking solutions which benefit all involved parties equally. This approach often proves more successful than using an adversarial win-lose model of negotiations.
Compromise-oriented negotiations seek to find an agreement where both parties make concessions that both meet some of their needs or desires, often used when seeking low prices like at flea markets or haggling with sellers.
Fisher and Ertel suggest considering seven elements of successful negotiations when choosing between collaborative or compromising negotiations: interests, options, communication, relationship building, legitimacy and commitment.
Silence refers to an absence of sound; however, silence may also refer to reluctance to speak, an interrupted dialogue or taking an official vow of silence as part of religious practice.
Skilled negotiators know how to use silence effectively by waiting until their counterpart is ready before speaking, which gives them time to consider all sides’ viewpoints without becoming distracted by their own thoughts.
Silence gives them time to consider their responses, giving a skilled negotiator time to devise an offer that improves their bottom line. Silence can also be used strategically by drawing attention exclusively to an important point – an approach known as foot-in-the-door technique; this strategy works on the principle that “attention=importance.”
At negotiations, be mindful of your emotional reactions and their effect on your ability to think strategically. Utilize techniques such as breathing to manage anxiety or visualization exercises that focus on positive outcomes to manage emotions effectively and achieve desired results.
To demonstrate your professionalism, bring data and literature that supports your negotiating points. For example, if you wish to negotiate part time work arrangements, bring articles discussing their advantages.
Recognise and become comfortable with each party’s role in a negotiation to avoid “checking with higher up” statements – where one or both parties claim they need permission for something not agreed upon – during negotiations.