Negotiations are a part of our everyday lives. You negotiate everything from who is going to take the trash out to how you can compromise with a big client to close a deal. You negotiate at home, at work, at your child’s school, or on the car lot. The fact is negotiations simply cannot be avoided; therefore, it is prudent to learn how to negotiate successfully. However, being a savvy negotiator does not come easily for everyone. Like anything else, the solution is practice and you need practical exercises that can be done every day to condition yourself to be a better negotiator. These three exercises will help you build the skills to be a powerful negotiator.
Practice Saying “No”
Saying no is much tougher than it sounds. When your boss asks you to take on a project that is outside of your comfort zone, or your friends ask you to help them move, we usually comply because we are worried about what they will think if we say no. This even happens in everyday situations like when someone asks to step in front of us in line at the grocery store. Most people are fearful of how they will be perceived if they give a rejection, but good negotiators understand that the ability to say “no” gives them leverage. In a professional negotiation, you must be able to reject the offer that is on the table and this can be difficult if you are not used to saying no. Thus, you need to practice saying “no” in order to get more comfortable with the process. That doesn’t mean you have to refuse everything, but learning to say “no” when the stakes are low will help you to be more comfortable standing your ground in a high-stakes situation.
Practice Listening to Other People
Listening is the most important part of communication because it allows you to understand what the other person is feeling. In a negotiation, saying less and listening more puts you in a more powerful position because the other person is giving you more information than you are giving them. In addition, someone who is slower to speak is perceived as a more respectful communicator. Active listening enables you discover the needs of the other person so you can better negotiate a win-win outcome. You can practice this skill by starting with friends and family. Try listening more intently and speaking less often during your conversations. In time this will become a natural element in your conversational language and you will be able to integrate it into your negotiations.
As obvious as it sounds, the ticket to being a better negotiator is to negotiate. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be which will lead to a better outcome. Start with small low-stakes situations and work your way up to more important ones. You can negotiate responsibilities at home with family members and then work toward commanding more authority in the workplace. As you practice negotiating in your daily life, you will improve your communication skills and your confidence.
These exercises, coupled with your own self-commitment, can help you to become a more powerful negotiator. You will become a better speaker, a better listener, and you will learn how to navigate any negotiation.