Zainab had been looking for a job for a long time when she received an offer from a leading organization. She was thrilled to receive a positive response after several months of unemployment.

However, when her new employers made their salary offer, Zainab was unhappy. But, afraid of losing the opportunity, she decided to accept it. Her friend intervened and suggested that she should try and ask for a higher salary. With hesitation, Zainab communicated her expectations and the organization accepted her request.

Zainab would have settled for less had she not negotiated her salary. She would’ve started a new job feeling unhappy. Read on to understand how negotiation is a valuable life skill.

What Is Negotiation?

The term ‘negotiation’ has been derived from the Latin word, negotiatus—meaning ‘to carry on business’. With the evolution of societal needs, humans found negotiation to be an effective tool to convey their thoughts and ideas.

Negotiation is a strategic discussion used to reach agreements between two or more people. In the process, every individual tries to present an idea to help reach a conclusion that benefits everybody involved. In other words, people try to reach common ground by eliminating differences. Most negotiations end with some level of compromise.

What Are Negotiation Skills?

Negotiation skills are qualities that help you identify your objectives, prepare your arguments effectively and take advantage of opportunities that arise. People can improve their negotiation skills through practice. Here are a few effective negotiation skills that can help you become a successful negotiator:

  1. Communication

Clear communication helps avoid misunderstandings that can prevent you from reaching a conclusion. It’s important to listen, not only attentively, but also respectfully. This enables people to have healthy conversations and minimizes irrational thoughts. You can connect with your audience better when you express yourself in an engaging manner.

  1. Persuasion

Persuasion is the ability to influence others, and it’s one of the most effective negotiation skills. It allows you to define why your proposition is beneficial to everyone involved in the negotiation process. Further, it encourages others to support their viewpoints. Your arguments should be convincing enough to win the confidence of those involved.

  1. Planning

Planning skills are important for negotiations. You decide beforehand what the terms of the discussion are and how they’ll be executed. It’s important that you consider how the consequences of your arguments may impact everybody in the long run. This allows you to envision the goal(s) you’re trying to reach and also helps you support your ideas. The best negotiators are those who consider all possibilities and are prepared even for the worst-case scenarios.

Features Of Negotiation

There are several characteristics that make negotiations successful. Let’s look at some important ones:

  1. Number of Parties

Negotiation is a discussion between two or more parties. These parties (or people) are in conflict with each other. The parties involved should work together to successfully arrive at a conclusion.

  1. It’s Continuous

Negotiation is a continuous process. Life can be viewed as one single and extended negotiation. We engage and coexist with people who have different interests or values. From family members to employers, we negotiate with (almost) everybody.

  1. Not About Winning

When we hear the word ‘argue’, we automatically think about winning and losing. But negotiation isn’t always about winning an argument. It’s an opportunity to look at the bigger picture, in which everybody benefits in some way.

  1. Needs Flexibility

Without flexibility, people involved in the negotiation may make emotional decisions. Anger, anxiety and impatience are some of the common responses observed in heated arguments. To better manage your emotions, keep an open mind. Separate facts from emotions and make objective arguments.

  1. Entails Reasoning

Be reasonable when you present your opinions. Don’t state anything for the sake of it. Don’t ask for anything that’s irrelevant or unreasonable. Try to maintain decorum and be mindful of everybody’s time and patience.

Negotiations In Business Settings

Communication is at the core of business functions and success. It plays an important role in the exchange of business-related ideas, news and views among the concerned parties. Negotiation is one such effective tool that helps individuals or groups reach an agreement when ideas and views differ. It has become an important aspect of business communication for effective resolution of issues.

There are two types of negotiation styles commonly observed in business communication.

  • Competitive

This strategy assumes a ‘win-lose’ situation where the negotiating parties have opposing or differing interests. Only one person gets what they want to achieve. In such cases,  hard-bargaining tactics are used to force an advantage. Confrontational methods, emotional ploys and distorted communication may be used to gain an upper hand. For example, you agree to the price demanded by an external agency because they’re the only organization with the necessary skill sets that’ll help your business.

  • Cooperative

This strategy is based on a ‘win-win’ mentality. It helps achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. It involves reasonable and open communication, trust-building, common benefits, problem-solving and decision-making, mediated discussion and a search for solutions that benefit everybody involved. For example, teams often brainstorm and negotiate business strategies that help achieve overall business goals and targets.

Stages Of Effective Negotiation

Before we start negotiating, we must understand the outcome we hope to achieve. We should follow a structured approach in order to negotiate successfully. Here are the different stages involved in the negotiating process:

  1. Preparation

This stage ensures that all relevant facts are in order to establish your position. For example, you may formulate your argument in accordance with the rules of the organization. There may be policies that can support your argument and make a stronger case for negotiating. You can also decide the time limit in advance. Setting a time limit avoids unnecessary discussions.

  1. Discussion

At this stage, every person involved must put forward their thoughts or viewpoints. One must ask questions to prompt the other party to clarify their doubts or differences. It’s helpful to take notes or record all the points that have been put forward. For example, courts have transcribers making notes of the proceedings. Additionally, everybody negotiating should listen respectfully and get an equal opportunity to present their case.

  1. Goal Clarification

Everyone involved should clarify their goals, interests and viewpoints through proper discussion. It’s through clarification that you can reduce the chances of misunderstanding that may otherwise interrupt the negotiation process. When you identify and establish common ground, it’s easier to progress. Avoid unnecessary confusion and state your objectives well in advance.

  1. Win-Win Outcome

Effective negotiation happens when everybody involved feels that they have gained something by negotiating. It’s a win-win situation because everybody’s suggestions have been considered. At this point, alternative strategies and compromises can provide mutually-beneficial outcomes. Although a win-win situation isn’t always possible, it should be the ultimate goal.

  1. Agreement

Consideration of differing viewpoints and interests can often lead to agreement. You reach an agreement when everybody is on the same page and they understand the consequences involved. You should keep an open mind to achieve an acceptable solution, otherwise, it may complicate the negotiation process and give way to conflicts.

  1. Implementation

An agreement usually leads to a course of action that has to be followed by everyone involved. This helps in implementing the final decision.

But what happens when you fail to agree?

If you can’t reach an agreement, your negotiation process becomes ineffective. Often, emotions become a part of our negotiations. In such cases, you may reschedule the meeting. At the new meeting, you could agree to look at fresh ideas or perspectives. Bring in a third-party negotiator who can help you look at the situation objectively.

Conclusion

Negotiation never stops and we must find constructive ways to live and work together in harmony. Harappa Education’s Negotiating Wisely course will teach you how to master negotiating techniques and become a champion negotiator. The Dual Concern Model will teach you about the different methods of negotiation. The Negotiation Canvas framework, on the other hand, will show you how to plan your negotiations to arrive at win-win situations. Don’t hesitate to negotiate!


Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics & skills related to the Collaborate habit such as Managing ConflictNegotiation SkillsWhat is Teamwork & Building Relationships in order to develop your collaboration skills.

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