by Jeffrey Williams, Trainer & Coach
The ability to persuade and convince other people is a highly desirable skill, sought after by employers, and also extremely useful in daily life. Interestingly, we have been negotiating all our lives – Jeffery brings up the example of how babies seek attention and care by crying, and children negotiate to get things they want from their parents. In previous workshops conducted for Polytechnic students, he had them try to invite strangers to give them money and join the workshop. The most successful participant managed to gather S$90.
We all already possess some knowledge about negotiation, so give yourself a pat on the back! The difficult part is in the execution and application of these skills. These situations happen to all of us – asking for a pay rise, bargaining for a discount, asking someone to do a favour for you, closing a sale with your clients, convincing your spouse/child/parent to do
Possible outcomes in a negotiation
Always aim for win-win!
In any negotiation, many people assume that they need a glib tongue, or that they must be the fastest speaker in the room. Quite the contrary, we actually need to have good listening skills and to ask the right questions at a suitable timing. And while we may think that all we need is ourselves at a negotiation table, we must be aware that preparation makes a difference, it is better to be over prepared than underprepared. After all, you want resolve differences and have both parties walk out in a win-win situation, so do not leave it solely to chance!
Six Negotiation Tips
1. Prepare yourself. What do you want? Which areas can you exercise flexibility in? Are there any alternative courses of action?
2. Actively listen. Focus on listening out for what the other party wants.
3. Ask questions. Clarify any doubts, and ask questions to gather sufficient information for you to make a case.
4. Identify any areas of common ground. Instead of spending time undermining each other’s stand, spend more effort listening to find out what similarities both parties have or are seeking.
5. Use positivity to build rapport. You can decide on the way you speak and the words you choose. Using phrases like “Yes, and…”, “You are right that…”, “That is true, and…”, instead of “Yes/No, but….” would greatly improve the atmosphere of any negotiation. It taps into the emotional part of us which prefers similarity.
6. Know when to walk away. Sometimes, even after repeated efforts and giving in, the negotiation still falls through. As long as you understand your position well, and have explored all options to reach consensus, giving up may not be the worst case scenario. It should however be used as the very last resort.
How to Improve Negotiation Skills
There are some other soft skills and knowledge that add to your overall ability to negotiate well – some are overlapping and/or closely related:
Interpersonal skills, verbal communication (talking/speaking well), listening, problem solving, decision making, building rapport, emotional intelligence, remaining calm and composed, influencing others, body language, handling objections, assertiveness, reciprocity, and desire to reach a mutually beneficial outcome, and more.
Some simple rules to keep in mind:
(1) Negotiation skills can be learned and refined
(2) Everything is negotiable
(3) Negotiations are never final
Keep on learning! Remember, the difficult part is not learning about negotiation techniques and skills – it is using them effectively to get the results you want. So practice, keep on reviewing your performance, and always look out for good role models to emulate!
Jocelyn Ke (www.jocelynke.com)