How to Negotiate Effectively

Negotiation is a skill that can make or break some businesses. An ability to negotiate for the cost of materials, employees’ packages, services by key service providers like lawyers and accountants, and the sales pricing for the company’s products and services can create or add substantially to a company’s profits, and so this skill is highly regarded.

High level executives like Robert Stefanowski have built careers on perfecting and using the art of negotiation to further the growth of the businesses they have helmed. But what are the qualities that make a good negotiator and can they be learned? Here is the list for you to examine and decide.

Be a Good Listener

Being a good listener is a core requirement for good negotiating. Its importance however is often underrated and overlooked, particularly today when the art of being aggressive or pushy is so celebrated.

When we are in a negotiation and we have desires what we wish to get out of it, we can sometimes assume we know what the other side will say so we do not listen intently to what they are actually saying. This also often leads to our cutting them off and not giving them a chance to get their thoughts out. This can lead to the other side feeling disrespected and also to your not really understanding what they want. Based on your inaccurate information, the conversation can focus on things that may have nothing to do with moving the negotiation forward.

So being a good and patient listener (even if you are sure you know what they will say), is critical to negotiate effectively. A good tip is to wait patiently for someone to complete their thought and then paraphrase the important parts of what they just back to them and ask them if you understand it correctly. This will force you to listen, let them complete what they are saying, and it shows respect because you are proving you have listened to everything important they said. You will win points in the negotiation for this tactic.

Look for Areas of Agreement

In most negotiations there is always a lot more agreement than disagreement and if you can focus on the areas of agreement, you can make good headway. Use those commonalities as the foundation for your both needing to find an equitable solution for the issues between you.

If you are negotiating for the mutual use of something like say a parking lot, perhaps you can comment about what nice cars you see them driving and how you also drive a nice car so having use of the parking lot is important in order to protect all of your cars. This common goal can open the door to finding a workable solution like both sides making sure that the nicest cars have spaces in the lot all the time. Look for areas of common interest and win together.

Seek a Two-Sided Outcome

No matter what you might think going into a negotiation, you need to be prepared to give something to the other side. Having an approach where you win and the other side loses will only create anger, resistance and a bad outcome.

Find ways that let the other side know that their desires are respected and you are prepared to work with them to find ways where both sides can feel satisfied.  Even if you are in a position to come away with an extremely lopsided victory, it is always better to give some back because the next time things might be reversed and the other side will remember how your side acted.

Negotiations are tough and happen because there is a dispute by two parties looking at the same things and seeing something different. Be patient and calm during the negotiations no matter how critical they are, and keep in mind that working with the other side is better than working against them.


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