We pass by a market and see an object we want to acquire. We meet with the boss and ask him to give us a vacation on the days we want or to raise our salary. We put a limit on the time our children can go home. In all these situations we have specific goals, which may or may not coincide with the other party involved. If this is not the case, we will need to negotiate with her.
But negotiating is not so easy, it requires a series of negotiation skills that allow us to obtain a satisfactory result. In this article we are going to see some of the main skills required for this.
What is negotiating?
The term negotiate refers to the interaction between two or more parties with respect to a specific issue or aspect in which different positions are held, with the aim of reaching an agreement that is attractive to the different parties .
Although generally when we hear the word negotiate the first thing that comes to mind is the business world and trade agreements, the ability to negotiate is a key element in all areas of life. Obviously this includes business, but we also find it in the academic field or even at an interpersonal level. Strategies such as mediation, for example, are based on the idea of negotiating and finding a point that people or entities involved in a conflict can accept.
We may not realize it, but we are continuously negotiating with others .
Main skills needed to be a good negotiator
Negotiating is something we do constantly in our daily lives, but in order to do it successfully in a way that results in something satisfactory for both us and the other party, it is necessary or at least advisable to have a good level of different negotiation skills. These are skills that we all have to a greater or lesser extent and that can be trained in different ways. Below are some of the most relevant ones.
One of the most important negotiation skills is self-knowledge. Although it may seem strange to be self-centered, we will be better negotiators the more we know ourselves. This is because self-knowledge allows us to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses , so that we can correct them or take into account which elements we can take advantage of and optimize in order to achieve a good interaction with the other party.
Knowing yourself is an essential element, yes, but it has very little use if it is not accompanied by the capacity to manage yourself and modify those problematic aspects when interacting with the other person. The aim is to be able to maintain a minimum of self-control, although without having rigid and false behaviour.
To negotiate successfully we need to know ourselves. But it is also essential to be able to put ourselves in the place of the other, to identify their needs and feelings , which we intend with the interaction and their perspective of the situation. In this way we can understand what the other party expresses and value it from their point of view, as well as what is not said (something that must also be taken into account and that in fact sometimes has more importance than what is directly expressed).
This is one of the most basic negotiation skills, allowing us to understand the other party and encourage agreements that benefit both of us.
4. Active listening
In a negotiation we are having an interaction with the other person in which both of us have something to say. Although we must show and express our position, we must also take into account the other party’s position and pay attention to what he or she indicates verbally as well as to what he or she does in a non-verbal way , or even to what he or she does not express or elements he or she avoids.
A fundamental skill to be able to negotiate successfully and have a profitable outcome is assertiveness. It is the capacity to be clear and defend one’s own opinions , positions and desires without being aggressive, without trampling on the opinion of the other and respecting their interests.
This is the most favourable style for a valid and profitable negotiation for both parties. Showing only submission would generate that our demands and interests would be undervalued, while aggressiveness (despite the fact that in the business world it is sometimes employed successfully) could generate reaction or even that even if at the beginning one achieves one’s objectives in the long run the relationship would be damaged. Assertiveness ensures a respectful and sincere relationship while defending the vision of the negotiator.
6. Argumentative and persuasive capacity
Our objectives when negotiating may be many, but it will be difficult to achieve them if we do not know how to defend them. Being able to clearly argue the benefits and disadvantages of our position and make the other person see them, and even convince them of the need to change their point of view towards ours or another one that is more similar, is basic.
In addition, many techniques can be used in persuasion, which can serve to bring positions closer together and even for the other party to end up seeing the virtues of our point of view. However, persuading does not necessarily imply manipulating or dominating the other, the latter being unethical and unbalancing the relationship.
Although we comment on it as one of the negotiation skills, in reality respect is an element that should be basic and predominant in any human interaction . We have to value and validate that other people may not want to negotiate, may not be interested in our point of view or may even maintain positions that are opposite to our own. This does not make them better or worse. Furthermore, in most cases it allows us to maintain a positive climate that, in the end, facilitates positive interactions.
8. Openness and authenticity
Although many people resort to many tricks and gimmicks when negotiating, one of the elements that actually works best is to be authentic, expressing what we want with conviction and always respecting the position of the other(s). Being sincere will help the other party to know exactly what is expected of him, as well as produce a cleaner and simpler relationship that will usually be better lived by both parties.
Negotiating can be stressful and have a very variable level of complexity. Sometimes offers, threats or attempts by the other person to gain an advantage will be made and, if accepted without further prompting, may not be profitable. That is why patience is one of the most interesting negotiation skills , allowing us to observe details and seek a balance between what one or the other wants. However, we should not confuse patience with immobility. Getting stuck can generate a loss of interest in the interaction.
Leaving things up in the air makes it very difficult to understand exactly what agreement is being reached . It is better to be concrete and indicate clearly what you are trying to achieve. Obviously we are in a negotiation and the terms are going to be agreed, but establishing diffuse limits makes the negotiation complicated and allows the other party to keep the option that generates the least benefit for us.
It will be difficult to bring a negotiation to a successful conclusion if we doubt our chances of achieving it. It is not a question of being arrogant , but of recognizing and valuing positively our virtues and probability of success. The absence of trust will generate difficulties in achieving the objectives and may lead to toxic and/or dominance/submission relationships. However, as with the rest of the negotiation skills discussed, it can be exercised.
A fundamental aspect of any negotiation is flexibility. If we want to negotiate, and not submit or impose our own criteria, it will be necessary for us to conceive of and accept the idea that both parties must find the agreement beneficial. To do this we will have to give in on some things , just as the other party will have to do. We also have to take into account that there are other positions that are just as valid as our own, as well as the possibility of modifying our own position or adding aspects or elements from others.
13. Risk Tolerance
Negotiating implies that a position is being sought where both parties can reach consensus. This also implies that we are taking a certain risk that our objective will not be achieved or that we will act in a way that is not what we would normally take. We have to be able to take the risk.
14. Adaptive capacity
Linked to the previous point, when negotiating it is very necessary to have the capacity to adapt. We must be aware that times change and we are in a very fluid and dynamic society, in which the interests and conditions stipulated by the environment can vary very quickly.