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Negotiation Basics that Build Toward Resolution

February 19, 2016

Successful negotiation takes skill, patience and insight into the desires and fears of each party. An ideal resolution for one party may not be ideal for another. In situations like these, strong negotiation skills are what separate the worst disputes from mutually beneficial solutions.

Here are a few basics to keep in mind before your next negotiation:

1: Remove Barriers

Be open and upfront with information. Transparency builds trust and demonstrates a vested interest in the other party. When people don’t trust you, they’re more likely to be reserved, leaving you with less information upon which to base decisions.

By taking a genuine interest, you’re more likely to find creative solutions and solicit cooperation from everyone involved. There’s no benefit to seeing the opposing party as the enemy. Successful resolutions are the product of treating every party involved as a business partner.

2: Expect The Best Outcome

The most successful negotiators are optimists. Having an open and optimistic attitude displays confidence and demonstrates your faith in the other party’s ability to meet at a fair resolution.

It also makes people more open to what you have to say and encourages the trust that is so critical to the process.

That said, it’s important to pair optimism with high standards. Setting the bar high conveys that, while you believe in a good outcome, you are still concerned with how the end result may impact everyone involved.

3: Take Your Time

Rushing makes us prone to mistakes and implies a lack of respect. One of the most common mistakes people make in negotiation is rushing to a resolution. The pressure of a time constraint makes it more likely for a party to accept a resolution that falls short of expectations, and that could mean leaving money on the table. Take time to fully understand expectations and potential issues before pitching a solution.

4: Listen

A surprising number of negotiations are crippled by parties simply not listening to each other. Be careful not to assume what others are thinking or finish what the other party says. Successful negotiations are built on fact; incorrect information can derail negotiations. Repeat back what the other party says to ensure you heard them correctly, and let them know you’re taking it in. Effective listening has the added benefit of gaining trust and earning respect.

5: Acknowledge Counters and Objections

Objections and counters are expected. First things first, buy yourself time.

If you ever try to lower your cellphone bill, a customer service representative might say “Sorry, I don’t have the power to lower your payments.” Statements like these are an attempt to end the conversation. Don’t let that happen. Acknowledge the counter and respond back with confidence. For example, say, “I’d like to speak with someone who has that authority.”

Responding to objections not only proves you’re listening, it also prevents the negotiation from ending early, giving you more time to reach a good solution.

Conflict is inevitable and has the ability to make personal and professional situations complicated. People often allow conflict to turn a potential win into a guaranteed loss. A practiced and confident negotiation skill set is key to effectively navigating conflict. These simple suggestions will help you make swift and strong resolutions in your next negotiation.

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