How to improve negotiation skills

Do you know how to improve your negotiation skills? By and large, we negotiate every day of our lives. We negotiate the price of an automobile or house. We negotiate a specific salary or pay increase. We negotiate legal problems. We negotiate in relationships with friends and family. Negotiation involves reaching an agreement.


Here are some tools, tips, and habits to teach you how to improve your negotiation skills.


 1. Go for the Win/Win.

Given that successful negotiation occurs when both parties’ needs become fulfilled. Generally speaking, when fulfilling the needs of others, you are allowing them to walk away feeling good. Focus on the win/win outcome! That is, make sure each party walks away with getting what they want. Developing a win/win outcome establishes a positive connotation with the experience, ultimately setting the tone for future interactions. 


Billionaire and oil tycoon J. Paul Getty shared, “My father said: ‘You must never try to make all the money in a deal. Let the other fellow make some money too because if you have a reputation for always making all the money, you won’t have many deals.’”  Simplified, if both parties involved feel like they won the deal. Unquestionably, that’s proof that you have improved your negotiation skills!



2. Let the other person make the first offer.

As a rule, letting the other party make the first offer helps you establish the field in which you play. Sometimes the other party might offer more than you could have ever expected. Now that’s an excellent field – one you might never have been able to play upon had you set the opening terms. Think of Rick Harrison in Pawn Stars. He always starts his negotiation with, “What price are you looking to get?” Then the item owner is put on the spot to come up with a number. He always offers them fifty percent of that number, and they usually settle just above that. 


Rick’s negotiation techniques are ironclad. Rick is a skilled dealmaker. He always clearly lays out what his bottom line is, and he rarely needs a backup plan. Therefore, effective communication with practiced negotiation strategies simply result in a win-win situations. Predominately, people like to understand precisely why you are asking what you are asking of them and they will walk away satisfied that they made an educated decision.

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”

Peter Drucker



3. Be pleasant to work with.

Overall, it might be challenging to strike a deal if you are being difficult. Many negotiations are unsuccessful because people can be rude, nasty, or disrespectful during the negotiation process. In fact, no one is going to learn how to improve negotiation skills if they aren’t listening to one another. If there is mutual respect and each party likes one another, it is easier to reach a mutual negotiation. 


Be pleasant to work with, and it will work in your favor. Be mindful of your body language, and practice active listening. Skilled negotiators are hyper-aware of their surroundings. They make eye contact and use emotional intelligence to read the other person and match their energy. Self-awareness will make the encounter more pleasant and help them reach their desired outcome.



4. Ask for it all.

When you need to ask for  something substantial, one tactic of effective negotiation is to swing for the fences. Notably, when leaders of major countries negotiate, they ask for far more than the other party will accept. It may seem over the top, but they do this on purpose. The premise is that if you ask for it all, you can always back off from your original offering. You can always lower your prices but rarely raise them once the negotiations start. That noted, go for it! Ask for far more than you think you’ll get when interviewing for a job or discussing a purchase. Use this technique whenever you’re engaged in any negotiations.

“Accept the challenges so that you may feel the exhilaration of victory.”

General George Patton



5. Research the other party.

Let’s talk about BATNA? It means “Best alternative to a negotiated agreement” and was developed by negotiation researchers Roger Fisher and William Ury of the Harvard Program on Negotiation. Most importantly, always know your BATNA when entering into a negotiation. Expressed simply, know with whom you are dealing. 


With this intention, do your homework, and find out all you can about the other person, product, or service. What are their motives, convictions, and beliefs? If they are a salesperson, see if you can find information about past and present deals and careers. In fact, the more you know, the easier it is to plan negotiation tactics. On the whole, it is easy to assume that others want the same things we want. People are different, and they have different wants and needs. The best negotiation time is when you know the other person’s perspective.



6. Don’t talk past the close.

Above all, once you have reached your goal, stop talking, whether negotiating, trying to win an argument, persuading someone to your point of view, or just trying to entertain. Transversely, you can exchange pleasantries and non-related subjects, but not the sealed deal. Take note, that anything after the close, runs the risk of making the listener change their mind. With this in mind, understanding when the deal is done, is a critical step towards becoming a better negotiator.



7. Be flexible in your communication.

The most successful people in the world are those who possess strong social skills. In truth, people who work well with others consistently rise to the top of their fields. Have you ever met someone with incredible talent but lacking interpersonal skills? If so, have you noticed this lack holding them back? A person’s ability to communicate well with others is undoubtedly one of the determining factors as to whether or not others want to work with you.



8. Review your financial status.

If you are negotiating when there is money involved, you need to know your limits. Understanding your financial limitations helps you not to offer more than you can handle. Negotiating a purchase you cannot deliver on is terrible for both parties involved. 


In the case that you are in a salary negotiation, practice effective communication skills and be prepared to have an itemized log of duties you perform beyond the scope of your job description. Don’t ask for something you cannot prove you deserve. In essence, conflict resolution is an art form, and being prepared for any negotiation outcome will ultimately save you and the other party time and respect for one another.



9. Do the right thing.

Sometimes it seems that the easy way is the best path to follow, but don’t be fooled by short-term gains. Being tempted to cut corners or take advantage of a situation often comes from being unprepared. Take time to manage your stress levels and prioritize time management. As yourself whether you would want this done to you? Would you like to be treated this way? Why are you cutting corners or taking the cheapest quick solution? You must reconsider that as a solution if it’s because of poor planning. 


Given these points, when in doubt, always do what is suitable for everyone involved. Owning fault and doing the right thing is a powerful mechanism that strengthens your personal integrity—doing the right thing for the right reason positively influences your mind. One of the extraordinary side effects of this habit is that you sleep better at night!



10. Be willing to walk away.

Simply stated, one vital trait of a good negotiator is not taking anything too personally that they cannot walk away from it. Avoid becoming emotionally set on getting what you want, and achieving that right now. Take note, if the person you are negotiating with is rigid, you must be willing to walk away from the situation. You might have to get what you want by dealing with another person. Additionally, you might have to re-engage with the same person at another time.



11. Make a personal connection.

Connecting with others, networking, and creating fulfilling relationships that positively influence your life is one of the best things you do. Focus on others, be genuine and listen as much as you speak. Discover the goals, dreams, and hopes of others. Having common goals, values, and shared experiences can enhance any relationship.



Now you know how to improve negotiation skills.

In summation, you negotiate all day long, and you are getting better at it every day. Effective communicators inspire others. You might be surprised to discover that you are a great leader and could share these experiences with others. Utilize these simple techniques to successfully negotiate situations both personally and professionally.

Best of success to you!

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