Negotiation is a normal part of our lives. Everyday, we engage in negotiation when we try to convince the cab driver to drive a little faster and try to take a new route to your office, when we tell our teachers that we need another day’s extension for the term paper that was due yesterday, when we ask our parents to increase our allowance, or when we tell the police officer that we were speeding for a very good reason and should be spared from being issued a ticket.
Everything we do involve convincing of some sort – whether it’s with other people or with ourselves.
What does it mean to be an effective negotiator? Powerful negotiation means having strong persuasion skills. We must be able to successfully persuade others to take our side of a certain situation, whether verbally or subliminally. To be a strong negotiator, we must have strong persuasion skills.
Aside from being effective in persuasion, we must also be very good listeners. After all, how else will we be able to win another person over if we don’t first listen to what he or she is trying to say? Here are five things you should consider in order to turn your negotiation skills into powerful tools for persuasion.
1. Learn to listen – If you’re doing face to face negotiations, let your interest show using body language. Lean toward the speaker and respond to the statement he or she makes to signal that you are recognizing his or her opinions. Make eye contact. Prevent yourself from being distracted by the people and happenings around you.
Ensure that the other person knows, or at least, has the impression, that you are listening intently and are interested in what he or she is discussing. If the negotiation process is done via other means (not in person), try to be direct with your questions so you don’t waste each other’s time. Be patient in waiting for your turn to speak. Listen to the words unspoken as intently as the words that are actually blurted out.
2. Know what you want and aim to get it. – Before you begin negotiating, you should already have a goal in mind. What do you want to achieve from the discussion? Be honest with your objectives from the start and don’t beat around the bush. If you are direct, the other person will be encouraged to be very clear about his or her plans, too.
3. Be organized – Similar to tip number two, you should be prepared with what you’re going to say before you enter into any kind of negotiation. Write your objectives down so you don’t stray.
4. Don’t judge – Pay attention to facts and avoid letting your emotions and pride get the better of you. Remember, you and the other person are in the same boat. He or she is also trying to persuade you into taking his or her side. Be open to a compromise.
5. Ask questions – When something isn’t clear, ask. Don’t let your passion to win the negotiations rule over the need to also get the other side’s point of view clearly. And even if you already know the answers, you might not. Asking questions will ensure that the two sides are still in the same language game and are still referring to the same issues.
In sum, powerful persuasion succeeds effective negotiation. If you know how to listen and air out your points clearly, the easier it will be for you and for the other person to reach an agreement. Negotiating does not mean winning a hundred percent. It means learning to accept and work with what works comfortably for all parties involved.
By Michael Lee