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You Are Here: Home - Newsletters - "Organized For A Living" - Article

7 Skills You Need To Negotiate Better

Negotiation is "a discussion intended to produce an AGREEMENT" -- discussions, debate, and dialogue to arrive at a win-win solution to the problem at hand. So what are the skills that you need to have to get a fair deal in a negotiating table?

Understand your own strengths and weakness. Know what your core values are -- what are you willing to COMPROMISE on? Also you should have total control over your emotions: understand how you behave and what triggers can upset your composure. Nothing will kill a negotiation more quickly than getting flustered, upset, or confrontational.

Also study the other party -- understand them and the BACKGROUND they come from. Put yourself in their shoes and understand what is motivating their decisions and choices -- their reactions. It is only when you can see the problem from the other person's perspective that you can begin to find a SOLUTION that would make them happy.

Develop an open mind, always have an inquisitive and inquiring approach to every problem. Think of the problem less and concentrate more on the solutions. The problem exists in a world of LACK and scarcity, a world where we focus on the negative and what we don't have -- whereas the solution encourages positive thoughts of ABUNDANCE and plenty. Thus focus on the solutions to maintain a positive outlook and approach the negotiating table with confidence.

Ask yourself 'WHAT IF' about every situation -- what it this objection is raised or what will happen if this situation occurs? Take a lot of time and care to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the various options and solutions. Make a list of ALTERNATIVES, evaluating the pros and cons of each and then ordering them from most desirable to least desired outcomes -- from both perspectives. This will give you a better picture of the inherent value of each solution.

Good communication starts with good listening skills. What is dear to the other person? What factors weigh heavily in their decision-making process? The art of QUESTIONING helps you focus better on the other person's views and draw forth clarity into the situation on hand. You can even use the information you gather to better craft your presentation to the client. It is easy to persuade the other person when you use the communication medium that they RELATE to: do they prefer reading detailed documents, or looking at graphics and diagrams, or getting a bullet-point list of benefits? Do emotional feelings or logical facts drive the person's decisions? Use this information to your advantage.

Be courteous, be polite, and show respect for the other party. Think and talk only in terms of the PROBLEM. Detach people from the problem. Do not make personal remarks, hurting comments -- nor be a sycophant and grovel at the other's feet. We are looking for a WIN-WIN solution -- not just a solution.

The purpose of negotiating should be to help you offer greater SERVICE to others. Service and sacrifice are the reasons why you are willing to negotiate and arrive at a solution that is acceptable to both parties. You are willing to sacrifice some non-essentials and not-so-mandatory attributes in order to gain something better and longer lasting -- and you sincerely BELIEVE that the other party is also willing to give some in order to achieve much.

When you are being cornered into a LOSING situation, be willing to walk away and drop all negotiations. Have the courage to walk away rather that compromise on what you hold dear. This once more emphasizes the fact that you should know what your core values are before beginning any negotiations.

Try out these skills and practices of negotiation in smaller groups, with peers, with siblings, with less critical issues and daily problems and irritants. With practice you will be able to stop looking at the people on the other side as enemies and start thinking of them as COLLABORATORS and helping hands.

Together we should be able to negotiate ourselves to a SOLUTION that was better than what either of us had imagined. The win-win situation may take time and practice to arrive at but it invigorates and nurtures both parties to a great extent.


Naseem Mariam is the editor of "Management that Soars" Newsletter. Her writings draw life from her 18 years experience as software Project Manager. Subscribe at . Visit her website at You may contact her at .

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