With everyone walking around with their own unique perspectives, beliefs and mindsets, it’s no wonder that we often come into conflict on opinions and decisions.
Even in our own minds we tend to come into conflicting thoughts in the process of coming up with a final win-win situation in our lives and this is where negotiation comes from. It’s the art of finding a mutually beneficial decision where the wants and needs of both parties are taken into account.
Why do I need good negotiation skills?
Negotiation influences our lives more than we may realise: negotiations matter within government issues, legal cases, international affairs and in domestic relationships. So developing the skill to negotiate in your personal and professional life will go a long way in improving the relationships with those around you leading to more harmonious outcomes and situations.
This is how negotiations play out in our everyday life
Take relationships, for example – when another whole and complete person is so entwined with our day-to-day life it’s inevitable that disagreements arise. It could be anything from deciding how to spend money, where to live, or how a particular career decision will affect your lives together. In these cases, good negotiation skills are necessary to achieve the best outcome for both people.
Ever get frustrated in meetings at work? People come from all sides and perspectives and all want the best outcome for themselves. This is a perfect space to be able to negotiate in a way that settles disagreements and issues calmly and effectively.
Maybe you’ve been offered a job you love but the salary isn’t quite what you’re expecting. We could start off negotiating in our mind whether we should take the job or even negotiate with the employer to change the salary to something more desirable.
Even going to the hustle and bustle of a market can be a negotiating experience when we bargain for lower prices and try to hook the best deal we can.
So, how can I become a better negotiator?
1. Understand the situation
Knowledge is power so if you put effort into understanding the situation then you immediately have much more negotiating power compared to others. Exploring both sides before entering a negotiation will allow you to come up with the best result for both parties and you won’t be blindsided by any unknown facts.
Remember that when entering into a negotiation, it’s best to do it from the mindset of finding the best for both sides and not to win. This will pave the way for a more calm path in reaching a decision.
2. Clarify your own goals
It’s also paramount to know clearly what your goals are and what would be the best outcome for you. By doing this, you won’t be overruled so easily by a particularly persuasive person especially if they come across as quite daunting.
Make a list of all the things you want the final decision to include and prioritise what’s important to you over what you could compromise on. It’s important to have deal-breakers if it’s for your ultimate happiness and crucial to think about why you want what you want.
3. Internally prepare for the situation
Life experience has caused us to understand that we can’t always get what we want. Negotiations imply that this is a situation that involves other people with different wants and needs and who’ll stand by them.
List out the expectations of what the other parties would want together with your own and try to prioritise them into how much you value each point. Once you’ve done this, write out a list of lower expectations in order to map out your acceptance baseline – having this more ‘realistic’ list can help when you’re faced with a situation where the other party is starting to take too much control.
4. Listening skills are key in negotiation
Once you’re immersed in the discussion, the first thing you should do is to acknowledge what the other party wants. It can be hard to listen to a conflicting opinion but keep in mind that each side needs equal opportunity to voice their perspectives.
Clarify clearly what you want in a calm fashion and make sure you do listen to what they have to say in order to stop any confusion or misunderstanding.
5. Negotiate for the best win-win outcome
A win-win outcome is achieved when both parties feel they’ve gained something positive through the process of negotiation. It doesn’t always mean you’ve agreed on everything on your initial list but both sides feel their point of view has been taken into consideration and the outcome reflects this.
Compromise and alternative suggestions always need to be considered from a space of mutual understanding and it’s now that you can refer back to your prioritised lists in your preparation.
6. Put your decision into action
Once your decision has been reached and, more importantly, understood clearly by both sides, it’s good to move forward with a shared plan of action. Remember to try and revisit every so often to keep yourselve updated on the progress and that it’s heading in the right, agreed direction.
Here are some more tips for smooth negotiating
If negotiating breaks down especially in a relationship setting where emotions are present and the stakes are high, it can lead to arguments that affect a core part of your life. Here are some tips to negotiate smoothly and effectively.
- Listening and being personable is key to gaining the respect you need from others in this situation.
- Be aware of the attitude of the emotions, in other words try to be emotionally intelligent about the discussion.
- Be open and honest giving good, solid reasons why you want or oppose something. Make comments on the offer they suggest in a non-aggressive way. It’s important that both sides are understood.
- Take time-out if you feel it’s getting heated and go for a walk.
- By speaking first, you are setting the ‘anchor’ for the rest of the discussion so it can be an advantage to start off the negotiation.
- Try to identify the mutual gains you share with each other as this builds the idea that you are both out to achieve similar goals. Once this is established you can work around it in the areas that you are trying to compromise on.
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