Everywhere you turn you will hear people talking about negotiation. It has become one of the “in” words and is often associated with big company deals or inter-country politics. In fact, negotiation is a part of everyone’s lives and is undertaken daily. You will notice that every day interactions involve discussing options with someone and agreeing to take a certain path. This may be a promotion path, the way to finish a project or even as simple as what time you will be home for tea. Every time you engage in a consultation exercise with someone you are, in fact, negotiating to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved.

Why aren’t your current skills working? Believe it or not, it is always possible to improve your negotiating skills and the following tips will help you to become a better negotiator:

The 3 key steps every negotiator should master

Engaging in a negotiation means engaging in a conversation. For the meeting to end on good terms, the people involved must reach a mutually favorable agreement. Here are three basic steps you should learn to master.

  1. Your own objectives – It is vital that you know what you want and need from any negotiation. You should also be aware of what the worst offer is that you would be prepared to accept and what your options are if this is not met.
  2. The other party’s objectives – Knowing what the other party wants before you negotiate will enable you to look at ways in which it might be possible for both parties to walk away from a meeting happy. It will also provide you an insight into how they operate and where they might be able to be flexible. You will then be able to build your argument around this and provide them with a satisfactory alternative which they are unable to resist.
  3. Basis for negotiation – Once you know what you want and what they want you will need to know why. If the other party has called the meeting there will be a reason for it and this may be fundamental to obtaining a good result.

Overcome your fears

Most business people have a baseless fear of negotiation. This is probably founded on a lack of perceived experience and a fear of being asked a question that you cannot answer. Provided you have prepared for the meeting this is unlikely to happen. If you know your subject then you will be able to work out the best answer to any question.

Make smart choices

Every negotiation is actually just about choices. You have your needs in mind and you should also be aware of what you are prepared to concede in order to get your demands met. Sometimes this choice may even be that you must walk away from a deal. There is little point in doing a deal when there is no benefit to you. Knowing your options before a negotiation will make this difficult but possible decision.

Think creatively

No matter how well prepared you are for a meeting you must be able to keep your mind open to new possibilities. It is often the case that the most obvious or logical route is not the best. A creative approach can allow you to see and exploit options that may not normally have been considered. You must remember that the same approach will not work in every negotiation.

Appreciate constructive criticism

There is little doubt that the other party will make an attack on your plan of action. You should remember that this is not a personal attack. Likewise you should never launch a personal attack, always keep your focus on the options and the discussion not the people involved in getting a solution.

After any negotiation, whether successful or not you should take the time to evaluate the proceedings and see where things could have gone differently. You should do this as soon as possible after a meeting to ensure you have the facts straight in your head. This will provide an excellent opportunity to improve your negotiation skills for next time. It takes time for someone to master the art of negotiation; the good news is practice makes perfect. The more you learn the better chances to have to succeed.