Mastering the Art of Negotiation
As a parent, there have been times in my life when everyday can seem like a tug-of-war with my children (now grown up of course but still very strong in my memories!). Phases in time where everything is an argument and even the simplest requests can become somewhat frustrating. Over the years, as parents, we become pretty good at negotiating around situations to get the results we want. You can be caught a little off guard when you respond to your child with a “no, you can’t have a friend over this weekend” and they come back with “but wasn’t it you who said I need to do more with my friends”. Time for a deep breath and wait for the negotiating to start….. “what if I tidy my room, or wash your car etc”… In a perfect world we would all love everybody to think in the same way as we do, feel the same way, act the same way but life isn’t like that. Whether in personal or professional relationships negotiations will always be needed. And, although we may dread the thought of ‘negotiations’, many of us do not recognize that this is something we do on a regular basis. Poor negotiators within a company can very quickly destroy business relationships and end up losing good customers. Don’t forget, most people have an inner adult and an inner child and when emotions run high through negotiations, it’s not uncommon for the inner child to come to the surface and bring childish stubbornness to the table. Key Points to focus on when entering into negotiations:
- Always establish the relationship: A good relationship will allow you to get to know the person you are negotiating with and also allows them to get to know you. A mutual respect for each other is a great basis to enter into negotiations.
- Always have options: having options for both parties gives each the chance to consider them and ultimately come to a satisfying conclusion.
- Listen and understand the issues being raised: Nobody can get anywhere if there is one person doing all the talking. A poor negotiator who wants to do all the talking only wants to control the conversation and is only thinking of the outcome for themselves.
- Be Prepared: Having all the relevant information readily available at your fingertips will allow you to enter negotiations fully equipped with the facts and knowledge needed to come to a successful conclusion.
- Focus on the Outcome: Win-wins for both parties is the ultimate result. You cannot enter negotiations only thinking of yourself. Bear in mind that thinking in black and white creates limited thinking and being creative is essential to achieving a good result.
So, no matter who you are or what you do, whether you are a parent, a manager, a politician or head of state, the basic principle of negotiation is all about relationships. Cultivating and maintaining a healthy relationship and good communication with everyone at the table can make everyone a winner. “Negotiation and discussion are the greatest weapons we have for promoting peace and development” – Nelson Mandela