Best Practices in Negotiation: How to Use Expert Advice to Your Advantage

A negotiation is simply an exchange of offers and counteroffers between two or more parties until a mutual agreement is reached. We do this everyday, whether we realize it or not, but it can be especially important in the business world. Effective negotiation skills are necessary in order to reach agreements, resolve disputes, and achieve your goals. Being a skilled negotiator starts with understanding specific techniques that can contribute to the best possible outcome for both sides. Here are some best practices to ensure you get the most out of your negotiation. 

1. Know the Objectives of Both Parties

Having a clear understanding of your goals is fundamental to a successful negotiation. At the same time, understanding the other party’s objectives is just as essential. By focusing on well-established goals of both parties, you avoid losing sight of the deal’s main priorities and you build stronger relationships with your counterpart. Starting with a clear understanding of your goals as well as those of the other party will help you pave the way for a successful “win-win” outcome. 

2. Listen to the Other Party

One of the most powerful tools of a successful negotiator is the ability to listen. A great negotiator actively listens to the other party, even if they don’t agree with what’s being said. That’s because listening allows you to learn valuable information about what the other person really wants. It also demonstrates your willingness to hear the other side which can foster a better relationship. 

3. Negotiate with a Win-Win Approach

Some negotiators are so preoccupied with achieving their own goals that they end up losing sight of the bigger picture. Negotiating from a win-win perspective allows you to understand and appreciate how the deal can benefit both parties. The key to this approach is to identify any pain points and turn them into opportunities for all parties involved. This entails avoiding making demands or refusing to compromise. Rather, you want to focus on finding solutions that are mutually beneficial and set the stage for a win-win outcome. 

4. Focus on Clear Communication

Open communication and complete transparency is essential for a successful negotiation. Communication between parties should be timely and well-documented in order to avoid any misunderstandings. Both parties should respectfully communicate with each other and also clarify any issues that may arise throughout the discussion. Choose your words carefully, listen before you respond, and show yourself to be an honest and fair-minded person.

5. Know Your Best and Worst Alternatives

Every negotiator should have a BATNA prior to entering into negotiations. This is a Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement and this technique helps determine and secure the best alternatives in a negotiation. It allows negotiators to prepare for various scenarios and reach the most favorable agreement possible.