Do we really understand what negotiation is and isn’t? Are we aware that it is both an art and a science? That it is a skill that can be learned? That we keep negotiating whether or not we learn to do it well? I was chatting with our trainer a few days back about negotiation and this is what our discussion revolved around.
7 things you should know about negotiation
- Clarify your misconceptions. Negotiation is NOT bargaining. One does one not engage in it only in buying/selling situations. You are negotiating from the first moment of interaction to long after the agreement is reached, and payment received or made. You might be able to identify when the negotiation begins. But it never really ends.
- Negotiation is the effort by 2 or more parties to reach agreement in such a way that each party has the right to say “I don’t agree” at every step of the way. Seen this way you are constantly negotiating with spouses/bosses/subordinates/clients and indeed everyone else. It has been estimated that we negotiate 400 times a day. In 50 years, you will negotiate 7.3 million times.
- Negotiation is pervasive: F2F, over the phone, on the Internet etc. It occurs verbally, in writing, through your behavior, and your body language. You are often negotiating without being aware of it. This is the most dangerous situation you can be in – personally and professionally.
- In the knowledge and information economy, negotiation is the paramount interpersonal skill required if you want to get things done with others. Your professional success rides on your ability to negotiate with people – both the person who sits in the same office with you and the one who sits at the other end of the world.
- The ability to negotiate effectively is a function of both experience and expertise. As such it can be improved. Great negotiators are not born. Since we humans are creatures of habit, relying on experience alone puts us at the risk of perpetuating ineffective negotiating habits and behaviors rather than developing effective ones. Your career, agreements, relationships, and bank account pay a huge price for your ineffective negotiating skills.
- Becoming an effective negotiator does not depend on becoming tough or nice. Your goal at all times should be to reach agreements without making unnecessary compromises; destroying relationships; and accomplishing what you set out to achieve. Reaching agreements is not made easier, faster, or cheaper because you are tough/nice.
- The cost of ineffective negotiation skills is both unnecessary and hard to quantify. However, the manifestations are visible to all: prolonged and unnecessary disputes, broken agreements, agreements that are not as profitable as they might have been, agreements that unravel slowly, and broken relationships.
Do yourself a favor. If you are going to be negotiating more than 7.3 million times, the best thing you could do is to develop your ability to negotiate