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Master Negotiation Skills

This lesson is a part of an audio course Negotiate Effectively by Barbara J. Bruno

Your ability to negotiate will always be one of the most useful assets you should develop. We were born with some ability to negotiate and probably expressed our wants and needs very loudly as children. Have you ever tried to reason or negotiate with a 2 or 3-year-old?

Children know what to do, especially in public, to wear their parents down and, as a result, get their way. As adults, you and I are not going to throw a tantrum or stamp our feet to win when negotiating, but you do have to learn to negotiate effectively.

Think of all the times in your career that you have negotiated. During interviews, you negotiated your salary and benefits, career advancement, and training. You may have negotiated with new hires and existing employees, with sales prospects or long-term clients; with vendors, suppliers, supervisors, or even co-workers. The possibilities are endless. But if you want to achieve the highest level of success throughout your career, mastering negotiating skills is non-negotiable!

The following are skills that will help you negotiate effectively or reach an agreement in conflicting situations. They include:

Analyzing the problem. When analyzing a problem, understand the problems and interests of both parties involved. When you see the problem through the eyes of another person, it resolves problems more effectively.

Prepare and research. Preparation is key in the negotiating process. Research the details, people involved, data from past negotiations if available, your position in the negotiations (strengths/weaknesses), and outcome options.

Listen to understand. Listen to understand where the other person is coming from rather than to agree or disagree with them. Listen twice as much as you talk and ask follow-up questions to clarify your understanding of words or examples utilized.

Communicate effectively. Whenever possible, allow the other person to talk about themselves, which will make them like you more. Ask probing questions that allow them to reveal their priorities. Communicate clearly, emphasizing benefits you would both realize if you attained your desired outcome. Quantify your answers whenever possible to alleviate any misunderstandings. Also, observe the other person's body language that can reveal much more than the spoken word and often uncovers their priorities.

Control your emotions. If the negotiations become intense, ask for a 15 minutes break to allow everyone to calm down. Emotional outbursts will sabotage your ability to achieve your objectives. Sharing facts and data can alleviate most emotions from the negotiating process.

Reputation for fairness. The others involved in the negotiating process will also research you and your reputation during negotiations. If they concur that you are a fair person, you greatly increase your probability for a successful negotiating process.

Give and take. Negotiating is a collaborative process, and a "my way or the highway" approach is not effective. Enter negotiations with a Plan A, B, and even C. Finding a resolution that makes everyone happy and satisfied is the goal of effective negotiations.

Identify deal breakers. Know when you will walk away without a resolution before negotiations begin. Your ability to negotiate not only affects you, but others involved who will be impacted by decisions reached. If the impact will be negative, you must walk away because of the far-reaching impact of the results.

Be respectful. In order to be respected, you must be respectful throughout the negotiating process. Maintain an assertive, self-assured persona while also showing compassion for other viewpoints.

Negotiating skills are not always a natural talent but can be developed by learning and implementing the skills outlined. Just being more prepared gives you a tremendous edge in the process. The ability to negotiate effectively is highly appreciated in today's competitive environment.

Becoming a strong negotiate will help you achieve your goals and will also play a very important role in your career advancement. Good negotiation skills help in both your personal as well as professional life. Negotiating effectively can also improve your bond with other individuals, which can result in a calmer, more peaceful personal life. These skills will help you settle disagreements, avoid conflicts, and reach desirable conclusions.

Take a moment to reflect on moments in your life and career that would have gone much smoother, had you mastered the negotiating skills outlined in this lesson.

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Written by

Barbara J. Bruno

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