Effective Negotiation

Timothy from United Kingdom asked:

"Why are most people ineffective negotiators? Please tell me how to make effective negotiation a daily practice?"

A Negotiation Expert Answered:

There are many reasons why negotiation fails. Many factors influence a negotiation process and all of them need to be identified and considered. One useful and simple way would be to divide negotiation into two poles. At one pole consider interpersonal skills, personal attitude and approach to negotiation while on the other there should be an understanding of the negotiation process and strategies. There are many negotiation training courses available in the market are created to hone interpersonal skills. The danger to the unknowing student of neglecting negotiation process and strategy can be severe. Many still consider that a successful negotiation process comprises of merely relying upon on an individuals communication and persuasive skills, or the ability to hold the reins of a meeting.

Apart from personal performance, if certain other elements are kept in mind during a negotiation process, success will be more assured. A second important principal element is that of preparation - no matter how good a speaker you are, a complex process like negotiation requires solid backup in the form of facts, credible information and an appropriate questioning strategy. All the above aspects affect negotiation, the outcome of which depends on how seriously you are taking the whole process.

A third area to consider that leads to inefficient negotiations is the effort of certain negotiators to control the final outcome of the meeting and the decisions and actions of the party they are negotiating with. To succeed in negotiation, focus on the areas that you can control - your actions, decisions and emotions. A clear vision of your goals, the discipline to back your strategy and the subsequent right decisions that flow from this will definitely make you a better negotiator. This is where preparation also comes into play. To make wise and firm decisions you need to have an appreciation for the parameters and context, your real limitations and your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement).

Fourthly, to become an effective negotiator and to hone your skills you really do need practice. Negotiation is an applied rather than a theoretical science. So just as you would not expect to transform your abilities through the mere reading of books on golf and horse riding, don't expect similar results from reading negotiation books alone.

So what steps should you consider? In the beginning, we would recommend that you enrol in a negotiation training course that includes many applied exercises and case studies. Ensure too that the course includes a thorough evaluation of your knowledge and skills. Treat this as an investment that will ultimately lead you to greater profits. Contrast for yourself the cost of making mistakes in the safe confines of a training course with the losses associate with client/supplier/colleague negotiations.

How best to entrench your negotiation skills so that they become as you've succinct you put it: "daily practice"? Try to systematically employ your negotiation skills and processes in everyday life and not just in business situations. Alongside training courses, there are certain complimentary tools, which can provide you with invaluable insights into your own or your teams personal advantages and disadvantages - many of which you may not be aware of. One of these is Herrmann's Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) that can help you discover and develop your preferences and skills. HBDI was created to identify areas of activity where you perform more efficiently as opposed to others. In the end, we would like you to consider how best to balance your interpersonal skills with your engagement and awareness of the negotiation process itself. This will make you feel more self-confident at the negotiation table.

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6 of 11 people found the following comment useful:

The Win Losers - 2009 Nov 18
Commentator: Roger (Australia - South Australia)

"Most people are ineffective because they are happy to sell even if the other party is the loser. If the negotiator does not portray any understanding of the others possition and does not tailor their presentation to the signals (including body language) the other party is giving, the receiver feels you do not care, arn't listening and are only their for your own gain. Perception is everything. If you don't have it, I don't employ you."

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