Following on from a previous post here are our 6 top tips for polishing up your negotiation skills:
1. Assume everyone has influence. When trying to land a sale or impress at an interview, never assume you know who is completely in charge. Heads of organisations often take advice from a wide range of people, so don’t concentrate your efforts only on one person. A kind word for a secretary or personal assistant often helps just getting you the interview slot you want and in fact, many executives will solicit information about your demeanour from their staff. So don’t wait to turn on the charm until you see the whites of the CEO’s eyes- greet everyone with respect.
2. When entering a negotiation, listen to the other side first. You will frequently hear priorities that overlap with your point of view. Verbally recognise these points and build them into a foundation for the concept you are proposing. Listening also conveys that you want this to be a collaborative process, a good start for any negotiator.
3. Verbally reflect what they are saying to convey that you understand what they want. Use phrases like “What I hear you saying is -” or “If I understand you correctly -”. This allows them to correct any miscommunication while demonstrating they are truly being heard; an invaluable asset for any negotiation.
4. After listening, start by emphasising the points with which you agree. Shared priorities and experiences allow differences of opinion to be only one part of the story of how you both want to move forward.
5. If you can, phrase all of your questions in an open manner avoiding answers that are likely to begin with “No”. Limiting the usage of this word keeps the atmosphere feeling collaborative, not combative.
6. At the end, summarise the agreements, actions points and compromises each side will be taking from the meeting and minute the details as this can eliminate problems or back-tracking later on.
As with many things in life, practice makes perfect, so how about practicing some of these negotiation skills, in fun ways/situations, over the next few days? We look forward to hearing how you get on!