From discussing terms of an employee’s contract to securing the best deals from suppliers, the ability to seal the deal and – ideally – keep everyone happy is essential. Enter the art of negotiation.

Managers and stewards with good negotiating skills are more likely to get good results and have employees who understand what’s expected of them. Negotiation means developing an ability to resolve disputes and conflicts. It also requires a willingness to work with other people to reach solutions that everyone can live with. In situations where a whole team/committee is negotiating, each individual should have their own role. Knowing who’s doing what and when, is fundamental to the overall negotiation process.

Here are 10 steps to becoming a skilled negotiator:

1. START WITH THE END IN MIND
Realise what you want the outcome to be and know how far you can - and are willing to – go.

2. SHOW RESPECT
Listen and learn about the other person’s point of view. Think about whether you can both attain the outcomes you desire and be prepared to meet in the middle.

3. SELF-BELIEF
If you believe you can achieve what you want, you are more likely to be successful. Presenting in a relaxed, confident way will help you to reach your goal. Speak clearly and concisely. Avoid appearing desperate, stressed, irritated or angry at all costs.

4. DEVELOP RAPPORT
People like people who are like themselves. Take some time to warm up your negotiating partner and find areas of common ground. Remember your goal is to create and preserve a relationship.

5. USE INFLUENCING SKILLS
Learn as much as you can about your negotiating partner so that you will be better equipped to influence him. Listen to the language he uses and then use it too. Find out what is important to him– does he focus on what he wants or what he doesn’t want? Does he seek approval from someone else?

6. USE SALES SKILLS
Ask questions and present the benefits of your argument. Find out if he/she agrees and then handle any objections. Remember to think about the benefits for both parties.

7. BE FLEXIBLE
Explore all possible solutions and outcomes. Be prepared to adapt if it means you both achieve your desired outcomes. Collaboration doesn’t mean giving up or giving in.

8. BE FOCUSED, FIRM AND DETERMINED
Restate your case with confidence.

9. CLOSING SKILLS
At the end of the meeting, be clear about what you have asked and what you have agreed upon. Confirm in writing afterwards if appropriate.

10. DO IT
If you have agreed to do something, make sure you have a plan for carrying it out and make sure it happens. Being reliable and trustworthy will make things easier when you next come to negotiate with the person.

NEGOTIATION IS MOST SUCCESSFUL WHEN BOTH PARTIES:

  • Recognise the value of a relationship and want to continue it
  • Participate actively in the process
  • Show consideration and acceptance of each other’s perspectives, values, beliefs and goals
  • Separate personality from the issue involved
  • Work together to develop a solution everyone can accept

Article published in Clubhouse Europe issue 6