When businesses come together to discuss possible deals or partnerships, they typically require the services of a business negotiator. Conducting any type of negotiation between parties with skill is beneficial to all involved, and being able to carry this skill into the business world requires specific and extensive negotiation training and practice over time.
To truly rise to the rank of one of the best in the field of business negotiation, certain key skills must be practised and imbibed. Keep reading to learn what these skills are:
The best negotiators are, beyond a doubt, strategic in their thoughts and words. There is a common saying about those who fail to plan and eventually fail as a result. A good business negotiator always has a goal and a strategy by which to arrive at that goal. Having conducted thorough research on the opposing party, this person comes to the table with a plan to direct the negotiations towards the best-case scenario which would have already been predetermined.
Multi-stakeholder negotiations often fall apart when there is a sense of mistrust between the parties. Skilled negotiators can earn the trust of the other side by being honest with their intentions and by conducting themselves with sensitivity and empathy. They adopt attitudes that not only show confidence in themselves but in the ability of the opposing party to make the best possible offer. They take responsibility for situations, veering away from accusatory, “you”, statements and instead, turning the focus to themselves with “I” statements.
While experienced negotiators are capable of being empathetic and instilling trust in negotiating parties, this by no means suggests that they go with every request the opposing party makes. A skilled negotiator is firm in demands and displays a calm assertiveness that shows an understanding of the value brought to the table by the negotiator’s client. This should not be misunderstood as aggressiveness, as an experienced aggressor is never aggressive.
Although it is essential to be assertive about one’s expectations during a negotiation, an experienced negotiator also cultivates the skill of flexibility. The negotiator understands that interests will sometimes collide, making it difficult to get exactly what has been asked for. In cases like that, things can get heated and negotiations can start to go sour. Experienced negotiators find ways to adjust their position so that they get what they need even if they cannot get all that they want. By remaining flexible to changes, they are able to achieve their goals.
Your instincts or your “gut feelings” are very important to listen to when undergoing a negotiation. Many people have great instincts, however, when they actually perform, they freeze up under pressure and refrain from doing what their gut feeling tells them to do. In order to become an experienced negotiator, you must have courage in what you feel and not be afraid to challenge anything that doesn’t seem right. With instincts comes caution, another important trait that one must-have. If it is too good to be true, trust what your instincts are telling you, and use caution continuing on in the negotiation because it may be the deal at hand sounds better than it actually is.
The principle of non-attachment helps the best negotiators understand that no matter how promising the desired result may be, it is never too important to walk away from. In certain situations, the opposing party might present an offer that would negatively affect the negotiator’s client. A negotiator who can say “no” and remain firm in that position and even walk away from the table retains options and will likely secure a better deal.
Mastering these five skills will give you a clear advantage in any negotiation and will put you among the top ranks of the best business negotiators. You can practice them by yourself, or enrol in a negotiation course that incorporates these skills into their curriculum.