Negotiations are a part of everyday life. We negotiate everything from who is going to do the dishes to how much money we will be making at a new job. Getting what we want depends greatly on one’s ability to negotiate. There are countless articles and pieces of advice on how to become a better negotiator but in the end it really comes down to one thing…practice. Like anything else, practice will strengthen your skills and you need practical exercises in order to condition yourself to become a better negotiator. The following exercises can be very helpful for those looking to build their negotiation skills.
- Practice Saying “No”
Believe it or not, saying “no” is tougher than it sounds. When your boss asks to take on assignment that’s outside of your comfort zone or your friend asks you to help them move, oftentimes we comply because we feel a certain sense of responsibility or fear of rejection. If you want to become a better negotiator, however, you have to get comfortable saying “no” when necessary. This doesn’t mean that you have to say “no” to everything, but recognizing those times when you need to say “no” will help you to be more comfortable saying “no” during lower-stake negotiations.
- Practice Active Listening
The best negotiators are also the best communicators and listening is the most important part of communication. You must be able to understand what is going on in the other person’s head in order to give them what they want. Listening puts you in a powerful position during negotiations because it means that the other person is giving you more information than you are giving them. Practice active listening with family, friends, and co-workers. Listen more intently to what they are saying and try speaking less often. You can even repeat back to them what they say to make sure you heard them correctly. The more you practice listening, the easier it will be to integrate it into real negotiation scenarios.
- Role-Play Exercises
One of the best ways to learn how to handle a variety of situations is to practice role-playing different scenarios. Ask a seasoned negotiator to help with this exercise. Give yourself ample opportunities to role-play several different scenarios such as the difficult customer, the quiet customer, the angry customer, and the passive customer. Practicing all of these different situations can help you become more comfortable when you actually encounter that type of customer. It is also a great time to accept helpful advice from a more experienced negotiator.
- Negotiate Every-Day Situations
This one might seem obvious but if you want to become a better negotiator you have to negotiate. Start with little things such as the cost of having your lawn mowed or the cost of a babysitter. Then, move up to larger things such as work tasks. The more often you practice your negotiation skills, the quicker you will start commanding more authority in the workplace and the more confident you will become at negotiating higher-stake scenarios.