Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute.
In any disagreement, individuals understandably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position (or perhaps an organisation they represent). However, the principles of fairness, seeking mutual benefit and maintaining a relationship are the keys to a successful outcome.
Specific forms of negotiation are used in many situations: international affairs, the legal system, government, industrial disputes or domestic relationships as examples. However, general negotiation skills can be learned and applied in a wide range of activities. Negotiation skills can be of great benefit in resolving any differences that arise between you and others.
Stages of Negotiation
In order to achieve a desirable outcome, it may be useful to follow a structured approach to negotiation. For example, in a work situation a meeting may need to be arranged in which all parties involved can come together.
Top Ten Effective Negotiation Skills
- Problem Analysis: Effective negotiators must have the skills to analyze a problem to determine the interests of each party in the negotiation.
- Preparation: Before entering a bargaining meeting, the skilled negotiator prepares for the meeting. Preparation includes determining goals, areas for trade and alternatives to the stated goals.
- Active Listening: Negotiators have the skills to listen actively to the other party during the debate. Active listening involves the ability to read body language as well as verbal communication.
- Emotional Control: It is vital that a negotiator have the ability to keep his emotions in check during the negotiation. While a negotiation on contentious issues can be frustrating, allowing emotions to take control during the meeting can lead to unfavorable results.
- Verbal Communication: Negotiators must have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively to the other side during the negotiation. Misunderstandings can occur if the negotiator does not state his case clearly.
- Collaboration and Teamwork: Negotiation is not necessarily a one side against another arrangement. Effective negotiators must have the skills to work together as a team and foster a collaborative atmosphere during negotiations.
- Problem Solving: Individuals with negotiation skills have the ability to seek a variety of solutions to problems. Instead of focusing on his ultimate goal for the negotiation, the individual with skills can focus on solving the problem, which may be a breakdown in communication, to benefit both sides of the issue.
- Decision Making Ability: Leaders with negotiation skills have the ability to act decisively during a negotiation. It may be necessary during a bargaining arrangement to agree to a compromise quickly to end a stalemate.
- Interpersonal Skills: Effective negotiators have the interpersonal skills to maintain a good working relationship with those involved in the negotiation. Negotiators with patience and the ability to persuade others without using manipulation can maintain a positive atmosphere during a difficult negotiation.
- Ethics and Reliability: Ethical standards and reliability in an effective negotiator promote a trusting environment for negotiations. Both sides in a negotiation must trust that the other party will follow through on promises and agreements.
If the process of negotiation breaks down and agreement cannot be reached, then re-scheduling a further meeting is called for. This avoids all parties becoming embroiled in heated discussion or argument, which not only wastes time but can also damage future relationships.
There are times when there is a need to negotiate more informally. At such times, when a difference of opinion arises, it might not be possible or appropriate to go through the stages set out above in a formal manner.
Nevertheless, remembering the key points in the stages of formal negotiation may be very helpful in a variety of informal situations.
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