In business, we are regularly presented with situations where we need to negotiate. The ability to negotiate effectively requires a combination of interpersonal and communication skills.

Preparation is key

Before attending a meeting that is likely to involve a negotiation, take time to prepare. Determine your goals for the negotiation – what is the outcome that you are trying to achieve and what are you happy to give up in order to achieve that outcome? Consider the areas for trade. In order to achieve your goals, you will have to concede a number of points to reach an agreement.

Active listening

Skilled negotiators listen actively to the other party. Active listening involved reading and responding to body language, confirming verbally (and through your own body language) that you understand the points being conveyed by the other person and considering any questions you wish to ask in response. During a negotiation, the key is to ensure that the other party feels that they have been listened to.

Communication

In order to negotiate effectively, you need to communicate clearly. Misunderstandings can occur if you do not state your case and argue your points properly. It is also necessary to keep your emotions in check during the negotiation. Allowing emotions to take control can result in a sub-optimal outcome.

Solve problems

You will need to act decisively during a negotiation. If you have done your preparation you will already know the points you are willing to concede in order to reach an agreement. Making decisions quickly in order to solve problems will put you in a position of strength as you will come across as having good leadership skills and a high level of engagement in the meeting.

Ethics

An effective negotiator should have high ethical standards. This builds trust with the other side. Both sides of a negotiation need to trust each other to follow through on promises and agreements. If you build a reputation for following through on your side of a deal, you will be able to negotiate more effectively in future.