7 Steps to Becoming a Superb Negotiator
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7 Steps to Becoming a Superb Negotiator

Like it or not, negotiating is something we all do on a daily basis. Whether it’s getting a new client to sign a retainer contract for your services, or buying yourself more surf time on the weekend. Negotiation is an art form, that is hard to learn and even harder to master.

Here are seven insightful negotiation tips that will put you on the path to becoming a killer negotiator.

Step 1: Know Your Enemy

Know as much as possible about the other organisation, project or topic. Being a good negotiator is essentially about the other party. You can be the most concise well spoken orator, but if you can’t relate, your good speech may prove fruitless. Research your target organisation, and adjust your pitch according to the expectations of the other party.

Step 2: Remain Unbiased

A negotiator needs to remain unbiased in a discussion, even if he/she doesn’t particularly fancy the other parties involved. Negotiators need to remove their emotions from the discussion and view each situation as objectively as possible.

Step 3: Keep Questions Open-ended

Asking open-ended questions gets the other party talking, and this allows the negotiator to listen and learn as much as possible and understand how and why the organisation does what it does. Adjust your approach to ask questions that garner a detailed responses; instead of asking questions that begin with verbs, “Is this okay?” – try “What can be done to improve this?”

Step 4: It is Better to Listen than to Talk

Listening more and talking less allows a negotiator to develop a comprehensive understanding of what the other party requires. Generally speaking – excuse the pun, people enjoy talking about what they want and how they feel, allowing people to speak, allows you, the negotiator, to carefully analyse what is required.

Step 5: Provide Multiple Alternatives

Humans have a natural desire to make their own decisions; a need for autonomy, if our freedom to decide is impaired, we rebel.

When negotiating with a prospective client, come up with a number of options, and allow them to select the option that suits. Giving people options is powerful, as it helps them feel in control. Never, under no circumstances, allow people to feel cheated, this will make others wary of entering future business agreements with you.

Step 6: Honesty is the Best Policy

In negotiations, be honest and clear about what is and isn’t possible. Gone are the days of saying yes and figuring out ‘how’ later, as this may set your organisation up for eminent failure – over promising and under delivering. Instead, rather underpromise and overdeliver. Know what you can and can’t do, and if what the party requires isn’t possible, negotiate an alternative that is feasible for you, and one that suits both parties.

Step 7: Set a Negotiations End Date

Instead of letting negotiations continue unceasingly without any real resolution being met, set a date to have all negotiations completed. This will also be helpful in creating a forcing function for both parties.

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