4 Ways to Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills

There is no question that negotiation skills are an important part of the business world.  In today’s increasingly competitive market, the ability to negotiate effectively is valued more than ever before.  However, most of us could use some help sharpening these skills.  Negotiating can be a daunting and uncomfortable task for many, so it can be difficult to know which steps to take in order to strengthen our negotiating skills.  With the following tips, you can build powerful negotiation skills in order to become a better leader. Here are four things you can do to dramatically enhance your ability to negotiate.

  1. Thoroughly Prepare for Negotiations

It can be very easy to neglect this part of the negotiation process but you should never underestimate the power of preparation.  Most people think of negotiation as a win/lose proposition in which they fight to defeat their opponent.  However, successful negotiation involves communication in which both parties strive to reach a mutual agreement.  This means that before you enter into any negotiation you should be aware of the needs of your counterpart.  You need to research the long-term benefits of your proposition before laying it out on the table.  You also need to gather as much information about the other party and find out what makes them act and react.  By preparing in advance you will be able to work out different scenarios so you will be well prepared regardless of how the conversation goes.

  1. Be Proactive About Negotiation Training

If you are looking to improve your negotiation techniques you shouldn’t wait for your employer to force you to attend a training seminar.  Take the reins yourself and commit to attending a training course for your own benefit.  When you attend training, don’t just take notes and memorize what the instructor is saying.  Rather, think about how the concepts relate to your specific job and ask for advice on how to implement these techniques.  Proactive students find a way to relate information to real life, making them much more apt to retain the information and improve their skills.

  1. Consider a Negotiation Coach

If you have an important negotiation coming up you can really benefit from getting some expert advice.  Find someone in your company who is well-versed in this area that can sit down and role play different scenarios with you.   A negotiation coach can also help you identify areas of weakness and offer suggestions for improvement.  Together, you can set goals, figure out which techniques you are most comfortable with, and learn how to effectively communicate.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice!

As with anything else, practice makes perfect.  Developing new strategies and techniques takes time and the more you practice the more comfortable you will be negotiating.  Practice by rehearsing new negotiation skills and using them every chance you get.  Try them out at home and in the workplace with friends and coworkers who will be forgiving of your mistakes.  Over time, you will build your confidence in negotiating and you will have a better understanding of how to handle various situations.