The Art of Negotiation: How to Master the Essentials

Many people dread the thought of negotiations because they find it to be tense and uncomfortable. The truth is, negotiations don’t have to be this way at all. With the right strategies, negotiations can be productive and meaningful conversations that set the foundation for long-term relationships. Developing negotiation skills is an important skill, as it is an essential part of doing business. So, consider the following tips for mastering the basics of negotiation. 

1. Establish a Relationship Beforehand

The master negotiator establishes a relationship with the other party before ever sitting down at the negotiating table. This allows you to get to know the other party and build a personal rapport with them. You can share common interests, learn about what is important to the other person, and get a feel for the person with whom you will be doing business. This helps to build mutual respect and a sense of genuine trust, and that is ultimately the foundation upon which constructive negotiations are built. 

2. Prepare Ahead of Time

Adequate preparation is one of the most important stages of successful negotiations. You simply must do your homework. Research both sides of the discussion, possible trade-offs, and preferred outcomes. Consider any concessions you would be willing to make and think about what you would like to gain in return. You should also prepare a BATNA that includes the lowest acceptable offer you would be willing to accept and remind yourself that your offer needs to be more attractive than your counterpart’s BATNA. By outlining each party’s goals ahead of time, you can enter into the negotiation knowing where the other stands.

3. Focus on Win-Win Outcomes

You never want to approach negotiations as though there will be a winner and a loser. Focusing solely on your own wants and needs will only lead to unsuccessful results. The best negotiators encourage cooperation and work toward mutually beneficial outcomes. 

4. Be an Active Listener

To master negotiating skills, you need to restrain your desire to prove your point and persuade your counterpart. Instead, you need to take the time to genuinely listen to the needs and concerns of the other party as well. Not only will listening give you options for win-win solutions, but it will also help you establish respect with the other party. 

5. Control Your Emotions

Whenever you’re negotiating, it’s essential that you keep your emotions in check and remain composed. Watch closely to your body language and that of your counterpart and look for negative signs like folding arms and lack of eye contact. If things do become tense, be mindful of this and ask to take a short reprieve so everyone can gather their thoughts. Act as a stable anchor and always be respectful. Take the high road and seek to understand rather than argue.