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Negotiation is the ability to successfully compromise and move forward on terms that all parties agree to. In order to navigate the turbulent waters of conflict and agreement, employees need airtight and leak-proof negotiation skills. Those skilled in this tactic are able to clearly communicate needs, goals, and next steps even when having tough conversations.
It may feel like negotiation skills are just inherent in some people and not in others. Can you really teach them? The answer is yes. Here are some tips to help you get started:
Preparation is a skill we all need in our day-to-day roles. It’s especially important when it comes to approaching a conflict or orienting toward a solution. Employees need to be prepared with their arguments, reasoning, and desired outcomes in order to structure and guide a productive conversation.
What’s the point in negotiating toward an outcome if you don’t have an end goal? As part of the preparation, and as a general rule of thumb, having a set of clear and tangible goals gives the negotiator credibility and an end game to work toward. Encourage employees to identify their goals before going into a tough conversation. If they can’t identify goals, perhaps the conversation is simply not worth having.
Pro negotiators are flexible without compromising their values. Coming into a conversation with clear intentions is key, but it’s also important to be open and flexible with how you might reach those intentions. This open-mindedness makes working collaboratively more seamless, with both parties feeling that they’re contributing to the conversation.
As with all difficult conversations, active listening and empathy are absolutely key to an effective outcome. Really listen to what the other parties are saying—don’t just spend that whole time thinking about what you want to say. This kind of open and empathetic listening helps to see other perspectives and informs an effective conversation, compromise, and outcome.
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