One of the most vital skills to have in business is the ability to negotiate, especially at the senior levels of an organisation.
Negotiation can be a very delicate process that leads to either the ultimate success or failure of a project, so here are our three top tips for doing it right.
Don’t see it as a win/lose situation
One of the biggest mistakes people make in negotiation is to approach it like a zero-sum game. They assume that they will ‘win’ if they get what they want and ‘lose’ if they don’t.
However, there are almost always some interests in common in a negotiation, particularly if it’s an internal conversation within a business – so a negotiation shouldn’t feel like a battle to defeat an opponent. It should feel like a discussion to solve a problem.
The aim of a negotiation is for both parties to leave feeling like they’ve achieved something they want. To achieve this, you will need to consider what the other party wants from you and – more importantly – why.
Seeing things from their perspective will give you a better idea of how you can come to a satisfactory resolution for both of you.
Before you go into a negotiation, you should have a very good idea of what you want to get out of it, what obstacles might be in the way, and how the other party can help you.
Make a list of your goals and put them in order of priority so you know where your main focus should be and you can bring the conversation back to the point if it gets off track.
You should also make a list of obstacles to tackle and a list of different solutions that could benefit both of you, as this is likely to lead to a productive discussion.
It will also help if you are as upfront and honest as possible. In most cases, honesty really is the best policy: nobody likes finding out that they didn’t have the full story. Keeping things from people who you’re doing business with can seriously harm your working relationships.
Work on your general communication skills
In sensitive situations like negotiations, you will need to be very aware of how you are coming across to others and how they are responding to you. This means working on your communication skills – particularly listening.
listening properly to the people around you, let alone a successful negotiation.
Pay close attention and repeat back to the other person what you think they’re saying before making any decisions. This will help you to avoid misunderstandings, as doing this will either make things clearer or confirm that you’re understanding them correctly.
In addition, communication is mostly non-verbal: look at their body language and listen to their tone of voice to get a better idea of how they’re feeling and how to handle them.
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