In the workplace you'll find yourself in situations where you'll need to negotiate to serve your interests. That could be persuading your boss, pitching an idea to stakeholders, deciding on a project deadline or motivating your staff for change.
But in most situations, you'll want to solve a problem by doing it your way.
Although negotiating is a walk in the park for some, it can be a very difficult and exhausting process for others. However, with the right training and guidance this is a skill which can be learned and utilised by everyone. To help overcome the challenges surrounding negotiation and persuasion, we have put together 5 tips which are vital for beginners.
1. Plan Ahead
In order to have an effective and successful negotiation you need to go in prepared. First, ask yourself what you want, what the purpose of the negotiation is and how far you’re willing to push. This will help you maintain focus so you don’t become indecisive in critical situations.
Also, try to understand who you’re negotiating with. Know what their options are, their strengths, weaknesses and motivations. From this, you can be realistic with your expectations and figure out how your counterpart can be persuaded.
2. Use Body Language To Communicate
Remember to smile. You don’t want to come across unwelcoming and unfriendly as discussions can get intense when hostility is sensed. But, at the same time you don’t want to display too much enthusiasm as this gives away your position. So try to control your emotions and remember to keep a poker face.
Making eye contact when your counterpart is speaking is also important. For them it shows that you’re interested and listening, this helps the progress of a negotiation as it expresses trust and openness.
Learn more about why body language is important in communication.
3. Listen & Acknowledge
This is a difficult skill, we often try and get our point across without actually listening to the other person. From just listening to your counterpart you can learn about their stance or concerns on a particular area.
However, you don’t want to just sit there and listen to them talk throughout the whole negotiation. Try and ask the other negotiator probing questions, this will help make sure that you get the right information.
4. Silence is Key
This is something that works both ways, but using silence wisely can give you a major advantage in any negotiation. If your counterpart said something that you don’t like or agree with, remain silent. After making an offer or suggestion, remain silent.
Silence can be awkward for many which is why some people feel the need to talk to overcome the discomfort. So try to remain calm and wait for a response. Silence will destabilise your counterpart as they question their own position and what you’re thinking.
5. Keep Your Options Open
When negotiating, just consider the opportunity to walk away to consider other options. You don’t want to come across as desperate, as the other party will pounce on this with demands they know you’ll cave into.
If you're prepared to walk away from a negotiation, it will show your counterpart that you have a strong stance and other opportunities.
Now It's Over To You
At our one-day Influencing and Negotiating Upwards training course (view available dates here), delegates will gain a wide range of tools and techniques for negotiating and influencing in all contexts, with an added focus on how this plays out within organisational hierarchy.
We also offer this course as a highly flexible In-House training session, delivered direct to your organisation on a date to suit you. Contact our In-House Training team on firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.