by A. J. Schuler, Psy. D.
Negotiation Skills Tip #1:
First Agree on the Terms and Scope of the Dispute
Lots of negotiations get off to the wrong start because the parties involved have not taken the time to define clearly the areas where they disagree. Very often, parties will rush toward gaining positional advantage over what they see the main issue to be, but before there is real agreement on which issues are at stake, no real agreement is possible. To increase your negotiation skills:
- Define where all parties agree and disagree - the main sticking points become apparent and areas of possible agreement come to light.
- Discover possible areas of agreement - it sets a more balanced tone as all parties proceed further.
- Define the scope of the dispute - you have already begun to take subtle control of the following negotiating process.
Negotiaion Skills Tip #2:
See Yourself from the Other Party’s Point of View
"Empathy" does not mean soft, emotional feelings of affection - it means the ability to put yourself in the other person's shoes, to see the world from his/her point of view.
Empathy does not require "sympathy," it only requires understanding.
You can agree or disagree with whatever the other party sees or believes, but you will do well to understand it. By understanding it, you will have the advantage in knowing how to present what you seek as a fair outcome in terms that the other party will be able to accept and understand, rather than fear.
Negotiation Skills Tip #3:
See the Other Party from Their Point of View
You will be most successful if you can advance your position so the other party can still maintain the "ego" beliefs they hold most important.
“Tact is the ability to see others as they see themselves” - Abraham Lincoln
For example, if the other parties see themselves as "tough negotiators," find ways during the process to emphasize their "toughness" - directly or, (better yet) indirectly - especially when you are making progress in advancing your position.
Negotiation Skills Tip #4:
Be Honest, and Get Your Facts Right
You can't negotiate successfully if you lose or lack credibility. Never knowingly make a false statement or assertion, but even that is not enough. Very often, successful negotiation come down to having more - and more accurate - information than the other party. For that reason, be sure to do your homework, so that you can speak of many facets of the issues at hand with confidence.
Negotiation Skills Tip #5:
Use Silence To Your Advantage
Loud displays, or "blowing off steam" will almost always work to your disadvantage. Experienced negotiators who use such styles know how to feign such emotions at strategic points in time, in a purposeful fashion. So stay cool. A corollary to this rule involves the use of silence. It is a natural human reaction, especially during conflict, to try to fill up silence, due to anxiety. But anxious people during negotiations tend to say things that erode their positions. By being silent at the right moments, you can give the other party a chance to
- see your strength
- give voice to the thoughts behind their stated positions - so if they are secretly giving in on the inside, you give them a chance to do it for real.
Negotiation Skills Tip #6:
Find Some Objective, Fair Standards All Sides Can Agree Upon
Take the initiative early on to stake out some fair standard against which any final solution can be judged.
Tell the other party you want to come to a fair solution that maximizes the outcome for both of you, and propose some standard against which the results can be measured.
For example, if you are selling your car, you may want to use the Kelly Blue Book - especially since Blue Book values tend to be slightly higher than those found in other such sources, so that this resource favors the seller, but is still a recognized, fair standard.
By setting the standards for final judgment of the solution, you
- frame the issues
- take greater control of the process
- frame of the standard to your advantage, as in the Blue Book example
- set the stage to win.
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