Negotiation Skills in the Workplace

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Negotiation skills in the workplace

Many positions require employees to have strong negotiation skills. Whether you are simply working as part of a team or you regularly negotiate with clients, honing these skills will make you better able to build trust, communicate effectively, and productively settle differences. Here we explore what negotiation skills are, the stages of successful negotiation, and the top 12 skills you need to be an effective negotiator.

Negotiation skills defined

Negotiation skills allow you to reach a compromise with another person or party. There are several skills that fall under the negotiation umbrella, including communication, cooperation, and persuasion skills. This type of skill set is considered a soft skill and is something that individuals can work on and continually improve. The exact skills you'll need to be successful in the workplace are contingent on the type of negotiating you do, your work environment, and the outcome you wish to accomplish.

There are several types of negotiations in the workplace. These types include:

  • Management negotiations
  • Coworker negotiations
  • Distributive negotiations
  • Vendor negotiations
  • Integrative negotiations

Most negotiations are considered to be either win-win or win-lose. A win-win negotiation is when both parties get what they want, while a win-lose negation is when one party gets what they want while the other doesn't or only gets part of what they went into the negotiation aiming for.

Learn more: 3 Negotiation Traps Every Employee Needs to Watch Out For

Stages of negotiation

Understanding the different stages of negotiation will help you become a better negotiator. The following are the stages of negation you should be familiar with:

  1. Preparation: Before negotiations begin, there are several decisions to be made in order to best prepare for the meeting. These decisions include where the negotiations will take place, the points that will be negotiated, your position in the negotiation, any alternatives you're willing to accept, and who will attend the negotiations. You should also take time to research the other players in the negotiation, their interests, and their primary goals.
  2. Discussion of information: Once you begin the negotiation meeting, the next step is to discuss and share information as well as explore options that meet the needs of both parties. Key negotiation skills needed during this stage including listening skills, and communication skills, questioning skills. You should also make it a point to build trust with the other party as well as demonstrate your competency in the matter.
  3. Clarification of goals: Next, it's time to get really clear on the goals of both parties involved in the negotiation. You should ask for any clarification needed to help you better understand the other side's viewpoint and interests. This stage is often when common ground will be discovered that will help support both parties experiencing a beneficial outcome.
  4. Bargain: A good negotiation involves both give and take from both parties. During the bargaining stage, you'll want to help come to a conclusion that satisfies the needs of both parties.
  5. Agreement: Upon successful completion of the bargaining stage, you should be able to come to an agreement with the other party as to how the situation will be resolved.
  6. Execution: At the conclusion of the negotiation, the agreed-upon contingencies will need to be executed exactly how they were laid out during the meeting.

Learn more: The Number 1 Skill You Need to Master At Work Is…

 

Top negotiation skills to excel in your position

The following are the top 12 negotiation skills needed to be a successful negotiator:

Communication skills

How you communicate can make or break a negotiation. You must be able to effectively convey your message in an easy-to-understand manner as well as understand the other party's message. Verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills are all essential when negotiating.

Listening skills

Strong listening skills will make you a better negotiator as they ensure you hear and understand what the other party is conveying as well as show respect to the other party. Active listening is key when negotiating and can help you build trust, increase your understanding, and ensure you don't miss important information.

Persuasion skills

Influencing others is an important component of negotiating. Good persuasion skills allow you to successfully propose a solution that benefits both parties and encourages the other party to agree with your proposal.

Strategizing skills

Strategizing allows you to see multiple possible solutions to a problem and ensures you're prepared with a backup plan in the event that the other party does not agree with your initial offer.

Planning skills

Negotiations don't end after a meeting. Rather, effective planning is necessary to carry out the solutions derived during the negotiation. Strong planning skills ensure you're prepared to execute the decisions made in a successful manner.

Decision-making skills

Many decisions are made during a negotiation, so good decision-making skills will support your ability to successfully negotiate.

Problem-solving skills

Many negotiations take place to find a resolution to a particular problem. Good problem-solving skills allow you to arrive at the negotiation with effective and viable solutions in mind that will benefit both parties.

Rapport building skills

Building rapport with the other party ensures they trust you and can make them more willing to see your point of view.

Emotional intelligence

Keeping your emotions in check as well as reading the emotions of others during a negotiation is crucial to ensuring the meeting doesn't get off track and your emotions don't get the best of you. Good emotional intelligence skills to work on include self regulation, empathy, self awareness, and motivation.

Teamwork skills

Many negotiations are held by two different parties, and each party can consist of one or more people. Working as a team with your party is an important component to ensuring everyone is on the same page and a beneficial solution is derived.

Analytical skills

Analyzing both sides of the situation and determining ways in which both parties can come to an agreement is essential to peaceful and effective negotiating. Analytical skills allow you to understand complex issues and come to the table with an in-depth understanding of the situation. Skills to work on in this category include critical thinking, research, and information and data analysis.

Goal-setting skills

Most negotiations are based on the particular goals of each party. Knowing how to set viable goals that represent both parties' interests ensures a triumphant negotiation. Good goal-setting skills to hone include time management, focus, and flexibility.

 

The Number 1 Skill You Need to Master At Work Is…

I've got some ideas

Negotiation skills in the workplace

Negotiation is a necessary skill in all areas of life. Whether you realize it or not, you probably negotiate in your personal life on a regular basis. Did you reach a compromise on where to have dinner with your friends? Or did you develop a pros and cons list to debate which show should be binge-watched on Netflix next? If the answer to either of these questions was ‘yes,’ then you’ve negotiated.

In business, negotiations can either be obvious or subtle, but with results that have equal weight.

Here are some examples of where your negotiation skills are integral to business success:

When the other party has reason to not give in
While negotiating a sales contract is a more obvious form of negotiation, negotiating vacation time may be less apparent. You begin by asking your boss for time off, and it so happens that the time period you seek is not ideal for them. This could be for a number of reasons: it’s the busy season for customer inquiries; someone else already has requested that time off and your being gone would reduce the team to a skeleton crew, or whatever.

The negotiation then becomes a challenge to see what you can offer to assuage your boss’ mind that your absence will not impede workflow and results. The value of being a solid and genuine negotiator who ‘gets’ that it’s not about just getting what you want but also about leaving the other party feeling they got (most) of what they wanted, as well, is an art.

[Related: 4 Questions You Must Answer To Negotiate Your Salary…Or Else!]

When the other party is resistant to change
Navigating a matrix environment implies that you are charged with a complex project crossing a large number of business units and across multiple states or even countries. You have to use influence to get everyone to cooperate. It is likely in these situations you are not directly managing all of the stakeholders. This is when negotiating comes into play to convince others they should comply with your requests even if they are not directly obliged to follow your orders. The push on your end has to be to use your leadership skills in tandem with your negotiation skills to inspire other leaders within the decision-making process to see the advantages of following your lead, so that they in turn inspire those they report to, to do the same.

[Related: I Hate My Boss – What Do I Do?]

When you are the main benefactor
Perhaps there is something someone else has that you desperately need to advance your (your division’s) goal, but there is no obvious benefit to the person who will be providing this service/product/tool/information, etc. Your skills at vetting out potential imminent or even future benefit to the other person are integral in building and negotiating a solid case. You want to make sure that even if in real time the decision would only benefit you, that you frame the situation as a win-win for both parties. This will ultimately inspire the other party to give into your needs. This particular approach takes a little extra work, including some personalized research to make sure that you’re finding ways that the other party would be moved to agree.

Ultimately any negotiation conversation involves both speaking and listening. You want to make sure that you understand where the other party is, what would motivate them to agree to your suggestions and what you’re willing to compromise to move the point forward.

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Negotiation skills defined

Negotiation skills allow you to reach a compromise with another person or party. There are several skills that fall under the negotiation umbrella, including communication, cooperation, and persuasion skills. This type of skill set is considered a soft skill and is something that individuals can work on and continually improve. The exact skills you'll need to be successful in the workplace are contingent on the type of negotiating you do, your work environment, and the outcome you wish to accomplish.

There are several types of negotiations in the workplace. These types include:

  • Management negotiations
  • Coworker negotiations
  • Distributive negotiations
  • Vendor negotiations
  • Integrative negotiations

Most negotiations are considered to be either win-win or win-lose. A win-win negotiation is when both parties get what they want, while a win-lose negation is when one party gets what they want while the other doesn't or only gets part of what they went into the negotiation aiming for.

Learn more: 3 Negotiation Traps Every Employee Needs to Watch Out For

Stages of negotiation

Understanding the different stages of negotiation will help you become a better negotiator. The following are the stages of negation you should be familiar with:

  1. Preparation: Before negotiations begin, there are several decisions to be made in order to best prepare for the meeting. These decisions include where the negotiations will take place, the points that will be negotiated, your position in the negotiation, any alternatives you're willing to accept, and who will attend the negotiations. You should also take time to research the other players in the negotiation, their interests, and their primary goals.
  2. Discussion of information: Once you begin the negotiation meeting, the next step is to discuss and share information as well as explore options that meet the needs of both parties. Key negotiation skills needed during this stage including listening skills, and communication skills, questioning skills. You should also make it a point to build trust with the other party as well as demonstrate your competency in the matter.
  3. Clarification of goals: Next, it's time to get really clear on the goals of both parties involved in the negotiation. You should ask for any clarification needed to help you better understand the other side's viewpoint and interests. This stage is often when common ground will be discovered that will help support both parties experiencing a beneficial outcome.
  4. Bargain: A good negotiation involves both give and take from both parties. During the bargaining stage, you'll want to help come to a conclusion that satisfies the needs of both parties.
  5. Agreement: Upon successful completion of the bargaining stage, you should be able to come to an agreement with the other party as to how the situation will be resolved.
  6. Execution: At the conclusion of the negotiation, the agreed-upon contingencies will need to be executed exactly how they were laid out during the meeting.

Learn more: The Number 1 Skill You Need to Master At Work Is…

 

Top negotiation skills to excel in your position

The following are the top 12 negotiation skills needed to be a successful negotiator:

Communication skills

How you communicate can make or break a negotiation. You must be able to effectively convey your message in an easy-to-understand manner as well as understand the other party's message. Verbal, nonverbal, and written communication skills are all essential when negotiating.

Listening skills

Strong listening skills will make you a better negotiator as they ensure you hear and understand what the other party is conveying as well as show respect to the other party. Active listening is key when negotiating and can help you build trust, increase your understanding, and ensure you don't miss important information.

Persuasion skills

Influencing others is an important component of negotiating. Good persuasion skills allow you to successfully propose a solution that benefits both parties and encourages the other party to agree with your proposal.

Strategizing skills

Strategizing allows you to see multiple possible solutions to a problem and ensures you're prepared with a backup plan in the event that the other party does not agree with your initial offer.

Planning skills

Negotiations don't end after a meeting. Rather, effective planning is necessary to carry out the solutions derived during the negotiation. Strong planning skills ensure you're prepared to execute the decisions made in a successful manner.

Decision-making skills

Many decisions are made during a negotiation, so good decision-making skills will support your ability to successfully negotiate.

Problem-solving skills

Many negotiations take place to find a resolution to a particular problem. Good problem-solving skills allow you to arrive at the negotiation with effective and viable solutions in mind that will benefit both parties.

Rapport building skills

Building rapport with the other party ensures they trust you and can make them more willing to see your point of view.

Emotional intelligence

Keeping your emotions in check as well as reading the emotions of others during a negotiation is crucial to ensuring the meeting doesn't get off track and your emotions don't get the best of you. Good emotional intelligence skills to work on include self regulation, empathy, self awareness, and motivation.

Teamwork skills

Many negotiations are held by two different parties, and each party can consist of one or more people. Working as a team with your party is an important component to ensuring everyone is on the same page and a beneficial solution is derived.

Analytical skills

Analyzing both sides of the situation and determining ways in which both parties can come to an agreement is essential to peaceful and effective negotiating. Analytical skills allow you to understand complex issues and come to the table with an in-depth understanding of the situation. Skills to work on in this category include critical thinking, research, and information and data analysis.

Goal-setting skills

Most negotiations are based on the particular goals of each party. Knowing how to set viable goals that represent both parties' interests ensures a triumphant negotiation. Good goal-setting skills to hone include time management, focus, and flexibility.