Top 10 Skills For Negotiation
"Some negotiations are easy. Others are more difficult. And then there are situations that seem completely hopeless."
Business negotiators have increasingly realised that to be the most successful bargainer, one requires certain skills in negotiation that involves creating and claiming value. A good bargainer at his job will be skilled at participating as both a collaborator and a competitor. To help you be successful at integrative negotiation, we have the top 10 essential skills for negotiation.
In every integrative negotiation, the ability to walk away from one deal and take another and the willingness to execute this will be the best source of power you have. This will give you the upper hand in the negotiation. Before you even arrive at the bargaining scene, you should try to identify your BATNA, which is your best option if the negotiation fails.
It would help if you were willing to spend enough time thoroughly analysing your deal and finding out ways in which you can improve your stance. Once you identify the steps required for improvement, implementing this step is a wise choice. Analysing and cultivating a BATNA will complement your skills for negotiation.
Negotiate the negotiation process first
You and the other person may not be standing at the same point at the time of the meeting. The presence or absence of certain persons, your schedule, and other things should be mentioned beforehand. It would help if you tried to negotiate the process beforehand to deal with all these aspects. This discussion will show your skills in negotiation and will give the other person an impression of you. You can both focus better on the more important things.
Build your rapport
The importance of communication skills for negotiation is very high. Research has shown that it is beneficial to engage yourself in some small talk with the person you are about to get into a negotiation with. This may not always seem feasible, especially if you have a rigid deadline coming up soon. But try to find the time. Spending a few minutes to get to know each other can lead to a more productive collaboration that will benefit you and your counterpart. Even if you are corresponding over email, put in a few minutes of a phone call to introduce yourselves to each other. Mastering these skills of negotiation will be one of the most important assets for your negotiation.
Listen to what your counterpart has to say
Once the discussion has started, avoid thinking about what your answer will be while the other person is still making their points. Try to listen carefully to what they have to say and reflect on the message they are trying to convey through your response because it is important to have listening skills in negotiation. This will help you check if you have gotten their argument and intention right or not. If you see any feelings, especially difficult ones, that can affect the negotiation negatively, like frustration, acknowledge them. You can extract useful information this way, and your counterpart may also repeat the exemplary behaviour.
Ask useful and meaningful questions.
In integrative negotiation, you can get more information by asking many questions that prompt helpful answers. As we have said earlier, it is important to have communication skills in negotiation. It would help if you tried to avoid the question that can be answered by ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Also, avoid questions whose construction will influence their response, like, “Don’t you think this is a good way to go?”. Your questions should be neutral and should invoke responses that will be detailed and filled with information. You can ask about the difficulties they may be facing, how they are progressing, etc.
Look for smart tradeoffs.
The difference between a distributive and an integrative negotiation is not very different. Here, the difference is that the sides become trapped. And, making concessions on a single subject and making demands surrounding it in the former. However, multiple issues are acknowledged in the latter, leading to both parties getting more benefits.
Looking for smart tradeoffs and figuring them out is among the essential skills in negotiation. You can start by identifying highly valued issues by the counterparts that may not be as valuable to you. You can then propose to make a concession on this issue and use it to get a concession from their side regarding an issue you may value highly.
Recognise the presence of anchoring bias
The initial number mentioned during a negotiation is influential to what follows next and the rest of the negotiation. This is not a simple task, and it requires quite a few skills of negotiation to pull off such a task. This has been shown time and time again by several researchers. The number may be arbitrary, but it still has the same effects and level of influence. One can avoid this anchoring bias if you try to be the one who makes the initial offer. This will sway the talk to your advantage. Even if you miss this opportunity, remember your BATNA and your aspirations. If you need to revisit these, pause the conversation and take your time to do so.
Suppose you can make only give offers one by one. In that case, you and the other party could reach an impasse, rendering the negotiation halt. To avoid this unpleasant situation, give multiple offers to the other party simultaneously. Once they have a choice set, you can ask them to pick the one they prefer the most.
Even if the one they pick is not satisfactory to them, you can still use it as a learning point to work on a new offer. It will best satisfy them and benefit you simultaneously. You can also have a brainstorming session to develop a deal acceptable to both parties. Such sessions can result in creative solutions that both parties are satisfied with. Here your communication skills in negotiation have to work; you have to make them believe that they are getting the best possible deal.
Try offering a contingent contract.
We can make estimations for a project, but many variables can still affect the outcome. Parties in a negotiation often disagree on how things will turn out throughout a project. When such a situation occurs, you can offer a contingent contract to bet on the future outcome. For instance, if a realtor claims that they can sell your property in a month for a certain amount of money and doubts that this will happen. In such a situation, you can propose a contract that will penalise the person if they cannot do what they say would.
You can also make an offer for a bonus if they make it happen or make it happen even earlier than they say they would. If the other party’s claims are legit, they should not have any problem accepting your terms, which will be a kind of insurance for you. Preparing and offering a contract requires particular skills of negotiation because it also involves convincing them that they are not going to get anything better than this.
Remember that the implementation stage requires planning.
You can improve the long-term effectiveness of the contract and make it work long-term by making a detailed plan, including milestones and deadlines. In addition, you can include this in the contract to make sure that the commitments and promises are still valid. You can also include an agreement to meet regularly at set intervals to reflect and report on the progress of the work. Agree in writing to make the contract renegotiable depending on the situation at these meetings. You can also add a clause for dispute resolution, which permits mediation and arbitration if conflicts arise. It is important to keep renegotiation clauses open in a contract to ensure that it is always on the table. Arranging this requires great skills in negotiation, which can be achieved through practice and hard work.
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