Becoming a Better Negotiator

The ability to negotiate requires a number of learned skills. When you use these skills in harmony, they will generally bring about a desired result. A negotiation occurs when two parties disagree on a solution for a problem, goal or contract. A successful negotiation requires the two parties to hammer out an agreement that is acceptable to both parties.

1. Problem Evaluation
To be an effective negotiator, you must be able to evaluate the problem to best determine the interests of each party. A thorough analysis identifies the issue(s) and goal(s) of both parties. For example, in an employer and employee contract dispute, the problem where both parties disagree may be in salary or benefits. Identifying the issues for both sides can help to find a compromise.
2. Preparation
Before entering into a negotiation, a skilled negotiator prepares for the meeting. Preparation includes determining goals, areas for trade and alternatives to the stated goals. As a good negotiator, you should study the history of the relationship to find areas of agreement and common goals.
3. Active Listening
Negotiators must have the skill to keenly listen to the other party during the discussion. Active listening is the ability to read body language as well as verbal communication. It is important to carefully listen to the other party to find areas for compromise. The skilled negotiator will spend more time listening to the other party.
4. Emotional Control
It is vital that a negotiator has the ability to hold his emotions in check. While a negotiation on antagonistic issues can be frustrating, allowing emotions to take control can lead to unfavorable results. For example, a manager frustrated with the lack of progress during a salary negotiation may concede more than is acceptable to the organization in an attempt to end his frustration.
5. Communication
A good negotiator must have the ability to clearly communicate the other side. Misunderstandings can occur if the negotiator does not state his case clearly and effectively. During the bargaining stage, a successful negotiator must have the skills to state his desired outcome as well as his reasoning.
6. Collaboration
Negotiation is not automatically a one side against another arrangement. An effective negotiator must have the skills to work together and foster an atmosphere of team spirit. All parties in a negotiation must work together to reach an understanding.
7. Problem Solving
Individuals with negotiation skills have the aptitude to seek a variety of solutions. Instead of focusing on the ultimate goal for the negotiation, the skilled negotiator focuses on solving the problem, which may be a breakdown in communication, to benefit both sides.
8. Decision Making
People with negotiation skills have the ability to act definitively during a negotiation. It may be necessary during a bargaining session to agree to a compromise quickly to end the stalemate.
9. Interpersonal Skills
An effective negotiator must have the interpersonal skills to maintain a good working relationship. Negotiators with patience and the ability to persuade others without using manipulation can preserve a positive atmosphere during a trying negotiation.
10. Ethics and Reliability
Ethical standards and reliability promote a trusting environment for negotiations. Both sides must trust that the other party will follow through on their promises and agreements. A negotiator must have the skills to execute on his promises after the bargaining ends.