Negotiation is an ART or a skill?

There is a common belief that successful negotiators are adversarial and create wins for themselves without any need for compromise. In reality, negotiations are about creating a win-win situation for all parties involved, at least that’s how it should be. Everything else is either bullying or having unrealistic expectations.

Listen to understand

You create a win-win situation by thinking about what the other person wants. To make a negotiation successful, you need to make sure that you are not doing all the talking. That is, seemly wanting to lead the conversation and endlessly explaining the benefits of the negotiation. The best negotiators do not listen to respond – they listen to understand. Try to understand what the other side finds important, identify where they may be flexible, and what limitations they may have. Always try and score but not at the costs of long term relationships.

Go through their wins

The homework of getting in to negotiations should be trying to understand the wins of the opposition and match it with what you are willing to sacrifice for the greater good. When negotiating, tell the other side what they will get out of your offer; attempt to meet their priorities without limiting your own wins. The aim is to create a situation where the other side can win just as much as you can.

Negotiations are not about attempting to dominate the opponent, but rather, they are about creating a win-win situation for everyone involved, where everyone will benefit from the results. This will enrich the negotiation, resulting in an outcome where relationships are strengthened and where you can both walk away with satisfaction.

Avoid the bad strategy of negotiating by continually conceding

Imagine that you have a potential client who will greatly benefit from your business. This client has unreasonable demands that will create more losses than wins for you, however you accept these demands in hopes of getting close to a beneficial deal. If you continue to give in, the client will learn that they can continue with unreasonable demands, and that you will always accept. Instead of giving in to these requests, make sure that the situation will lead to future benefits for you. If you have to concede try and walk away by creating a future opportunity.

Be willing to walk away

One mistake that many people make is becoming too emotionally attached to ‘winning’ the negotiation. If you cannot reach a negotiation, it is better to walk away before you become too aggressive or vulnerable in the transaction. It is better to walk away than it is to damage your relationship, reputation, financial position or just general self-esteem. Accepting “No” for an answer and communicating “No” as an answer if used sparingly only makes you and your position stronger. Negotiation is a skill to learn and an art to execute. Keep it simple! Keep it happy!

Start reading Amjad Khanche’s Being Entrepreneurial series for insights into his first venture and success.