The art of negotiation is an important skill you must learn if you wish to become an effective professional capable of maintaining good relationships. You also need to master it in order to be able to close satisfactory deals.
What is negotiation?
People make decisions according to their self-interest. Negotiation is a way of appealing to people’s self-interest in order to get what you want. It involves reaching an agreement or making a compromise to avoid dispute.
How to negotiate successfully
- Be a good listener
Follow this rule: listen 70% of the time and use the remaining 30% to talk. Trying to outtalk the other party will always be counterproductive. Do not be preoccupied with making sure your point is heard that you forget to pay attention to what others have to say.
Instead, encourage them to talk. That’s the only way to figure out how to persuade them. Also, take care not to jump to conclusions.
To make people more receptive to your point of view, mostly talk about things that will benefit them.
You can resolve conflicts better and get what you want in the end if you master the art of listening.
- Make the first offer
By stating your offer first, the other person will be psychologically inclined to work around it. This is known as the anchor effect.
- Mind your posture and body language
You must appear confident if you wish to be taken seriously. Findings have shown that communication is 93% non-verbal and only 7% verbal.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Sit or stand up straight and maintain eye contact.
- Mirror the other person’s movements so as to create rapport.
- Nod your head in agreement occasionally. This makes the person more open.
- Do not fidget or clasp your hands tightly. You can place the tip your fingers together just below your chest while speaking to project confidence.
- Maintain an open posture. It makes the person feel more comfortable and engaged.
- Be outspoken
Being outspoken does not mean hijacking the entire conversation. It means not being afraid to ask for what you want. Be assertive.
Don’t assume the person you are dealing with is a mind reader. If you are not satisfied with the terms, let it be known. Don’t keep it to yourself and feel bad about it later.
- Give information freely
It is considered a smart approach not to reveal your cards. But sometimes, this may cause distrust. People tend to reciprocate how they are treated. If you are seem guarded and unwilling to put yourself out there, they will do the same.
Some findings have shown that revealing some information about yourself, no matter how unrelated to the conversation, helps encourage rapport and create opportunities for a better outcome.
But beware. During negotiations, don’t provide information that can be used against you.
- Know when to compromise
Sometimes, to win some, you have to lose some. Make compromises that can create a positive outcome without causing yourself much harm.
- Focus on the other person’s limitations
Never pay heed to any pressure you might be facing. Remove all thoughts you might have about why the deal is important to you. Doing otherwise will make you appear desperate and put the other person in control.
You become more powerful by recognizing the pressure the other party is facing; their worries and concerns. This way, you are better able to steer the negotiation in your favour.
- Always be willing to walk away
This is easier when you know you have other options. But this is not always the case.
However, the fact remains that if you lean too much on the hope of reaching an agreement, you lose your ability to say no, and in the process, accept terms that are not favourable to you.
The other person will be willing to make concessions when they recognize you are not afraid to walk away.
What to do when negotiations turn sour
Sometimes, things may not go the way we want them to. Negotiations can still fail despite making compromises.
The conversation could still go south even when it seems you are about to convince the other party to see reasons or agree to terms.
In such situations, here’s what you should do:
- Try not to lose your composure. It is often easy to lose patience, react emotionally, and say unfortunate things you will regret later on.
- Reschedule another meeting if possible. This will prevent counterproductive arguments that not only wastes your time but can ruin the relationship permanently.
- Make peace with the fact that the negation has failed.
- Consider other possible options.
Good negotiation skills make you confident, keep you from being intimidated, lend your competitive advantage, and most of all, enable you to maintain good relationships through conflict management.
The aim of negotiation is not for you to get everything you want. It’s about finding common ground. People tend to forget this, and that’s why they don’t succeed. At the same time, never agree to terms that don’t favour you, and always know when to walk away.
However, it’s still possible to get what you want by showing empathy. People tend to be more compliant when they feel understood. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to win them over.