6 Steps for Refining Your Negotiation Skills
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Negotiations are part of our everyday work and personal life whether we realize it or not. From negotiating our salary or work accountabilities with our employer to finding common ground regarding the division of household chores at home. To get what you want and need, it’s important to refine your negotiation skills. Here are 6 steps to get you started:
- Do your homework. Information is the foundation of effective value creation. Without knowing who your counterpart is, it’s almost impossible to establish strong negotiation points. Find the answers to some key questions first. For example - What do you know about the person/company you are negotiating with? What are the other parties’ goals and objectives as well as their issues and pain points? What are your own goals and objectives? What hard data to you have to back up your position?
- Foster relationships. There’s nothing more important than an open, honest relationship when you’re negotiating. Relationships are built over time, so show interest in the other party and find commonalities. Relationships built on trust will facilitate the negotiations process. Keep promises and be reliable.
- Understand ZOPA and BANTA. By knowing the ZOPA (Zone of Possible Agreement), you can go into the negotiation better prepared. The BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is among one of the many pieces of information negotiators seek when formulating deal making. If your current negotiation reaches an impasse, what’s the most that we are willing to give or the least we are willing to take to reach a negotiated agreement.
- Be prepared. Determine which options you will present by identifying multiple creative alternatives that might not be readily visible. Determine the pros and cons of each option, and possible unintended consequences. Prepare your argument for and against each potential solution and be able to clearly articulate your recommendation.
- Be a problem solver. Individuals with negotiation skills have the ability to seek a variety of solutions to problems. Instead of focusing on one ultimate goal for the negotiation, emphasize solving the problem to benefit both sides of the issue. Maintain a professional approach while focusing solely on the business case and impact.
- Listen and ask. When negotiating, remember to talk less and listen more. Pay attention to the verbal and non-verbal communication happening before, during and after the negotiation. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the other person’s responses to gain important insights that can help strengthen your argument.
Finally, remember that good negotiators are patient. Take time to prepare good questions, get clarity and make sure you understand each point as you move forward. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings and confusion later.