Everybody negotiates — whether you’re closing a sale, deciding what restaurant to go to for a family dinner, or driving a multi-million-dollar acquisition. Trying to get what you want while keeping everyone else happy — or at least not unhappy — is a key skill for leaders. Negotiation is a key part of problem-solving, and leaders need to be able to navigate through complex situations and find solutions that work for everyone involved.
Too often, negotiating feels like an “us vs. them” situation where there are winners and losers. The best negotiators know that it’s about more of a partnership where two sides work together to achieve their goals.
In this article, we’ll talk about some of the key strategies you must employ to be successful.
10 Key Skills for Successful Negotiations
Negotiation will be central to your ability to succeed in the workplace, get colleagues to collaborate, solve conflicts, and get deals done.
A good negotiation will almost always include a bit of give and take. The most successful deals occur when both sides get something out of it. That doesn’t mean you have to give in to unreasonable demands or let yourself be bullied. Good negotiating occurs when both sides are reasonable and work collaboratively.
Here are the top 10 skills you need for successful negotiations.
You should always go into a negotiation having done your homework. You need to know your bottom line, where you have flexibility, and where you don’t. You should also know the consequences of failing to come to an agreement.
It helps to be able to put things in context so you can keep the big goals in mind and not get caught up in focusing on inconsequential details. You also want to know where you can compromise if needed and where you draw the line.
You also want to have facts or information available if you need to back up your statements.
Know Your Value
To be successful at negotiating, you need to know the value of what you bring to the table. It helps to know the strengths and weaknesses, whether you’re talking about a product or service or anything else. The best negotiators have strong beliefs in what they are trying to accomplish and know the value.
Understand Other Points of View
The best negotiators can assess a situation from all sides of the negotiation. This means understanding what the other person wants to get and empathizing with their situation — even when things aren’t going your way.
This likely means asking lots of questions and using clarifying statements to make sure your grasp what the other side is saying.
Manage Your Emotions
It’s easy to let your emotions get the best of you or get frustrated. Rarely, however, does a take-it-or-leave-it attitude work out well. If you let your emotions take over, you are not in control. A measured, calm approach is the better way to go.
Be a Good Communicator
Strong negotiators are also good communicators. They know how to explain complex situations and get their points across clearly and effectively. Poor communication creates uncertainty and misunderstanding, leading to conflict and frustration.
The best negotiators know they need to talk through the key points, even when they are uncomfortable. It’s important you get everything out in the open and look for ways to come to an agreement. It’s better to share your priorities and see what’s important to the other side to find potential trade-offs.
Be an Active Listener
You need to practice active listening to make sure you have a firm grasp on what the other person is trying to tell you and how they respond to what you say. This both aids in communication and shows the other party that you respect their positions.
Signal a Collaborative Approach
In negotiations, you need to work together to achieve a mutual goal. When you work together with someone and try to be a mutually agreeable outcome, it will be less stressful. When you signal an openness to work with others, they are more likely to do the same.
Trying to rush through a negotiation or close a deal before it’s ready puts you in a weaker position. It is important that you are patient during the negotiating process and make sure you discuss any deal points that are important to either party.
Moving to a deal too quickly can make one side feel less confident in the outcome. If they agreed to your price without blinking, you may be wondering if you priced things too low. If the other side asks for a price concession and you agree right away, they may think you weren’t being transparent in the beginning. Either way, this can affect the relationship in the future.
Be Ready to Make Decisions
In every negotiation, there comes a point where you need to make a decision. When you hit that point, you must be ready to decide. Typically, this comes after some concessions have been made on both sides of a deal. Knowing when to stop is key to closing negotiations.
Be Able to Say No
While you are working to find a mutually agreeable solution, there are times when you have to say no. If the other party is asking for something unreasonable or something you’re not willing to do, dancing around the issue is a waste of time. Even if it ends the negotiations, you have to be ready to say no when it’s appropriate.
Set the Stage for the Future
The impression you leave while negotiating can also resonate in the future. While you want to be strong in your convictions and stand up for what’s important, you also want to show the other party that you are willing to work together to find a solution that provides the best outcome for both of you.
The phrase “win-win” is overutilized, but the message behind it is strong. When both sides win, it’s a far better outcome than putting someone in the position of losing. Even if you win at this stage, how you win can impact your next negotiation.
At Impro, we support leaders to improve their negotiation skills by leveraging our data-driven coaching and consulting platform. Learn more about us and how we can help you boost your team’s negotiation abilities in the workspace.