05 Nov 10 Best Tips on How to Improve Negotiation Skills in the Workplace
Negotiating at work entails communicating with your boss or coworkers in order to obtain what you desire. It also entails working as a group to resolve conflict, which is why learning how to improve negotiation skills in the workplace is essential for professional success.
Conflict can arise when two people have opposing views on the same situation. For example, you may want to be paid more, but your boss may tell you that the company cannot afford it at the moment.
Conflict is an inevitable part of life, but conflict resolution does not have to be tense or difficult. To find a solution, all that is required is openness and a willingness to collaborate.
A negotiation can end in one of three ways:
- Win-Win – The parties reach a compromise or middle ground that is acceptable to both sides.
- Win-Lose – The solution only favors one party while the other is forced to agree on something that is below what they consider acceptable.
- Lose-Lose – Both parties walk away from negotiations because of their failure to make concessions that will lead to a solution that favors both sides equally.
It is sometimes preferable to walk away from negotiation rather than accept an unsatisfactory outcome. For example, if you and your employer cannot agree on a salary, it may be time to consider leaving your job.
Types of Negotiations
Most negotiations will result in one of two outcomes: “win-win” or “win-lose.” Understanding the various types of negotiations allows you to identify the most relevant skills for your role and improve them. The most common types of negotiations are distributive and integrative.
1. Distributive negotiation
Distributive negotiation, also known as zero-sum or win-lose negotiation, is a strategy where one person succeeds only if the other person fails. Typically, a distributive negotiation involves the discussion of a single issue.
For example, a sales company may wish to agree with a vendor for IT services. The business wants the most IT services at the lowest possible cost, while the IT vendor wants to provide the fewest resources at the highest possible cost. The desire of each party to get a better deal represents a distributive negotiation strategy.
The following are some pointers for achieving success in a distributive negotiation:
- Be tenacious.
- Make the first bid.
- Don’t share your least-worst-case scenario.
2. Integrative negotiation
Integrative negotiation, also known as win-win negotiation or collaborative negotiation, is a strategy in which negotiating parties seek a mutually beneficial solution. Integrative negotiations, as opposed to distributive negotiations, can involve multiple issues.
For example, an established fashion company and a cosmetics startup agree to collaborate on a product aimed at their common target market. They reach an agreement that allows the cosmetics startup to gain more exposure while also allowing the fashion company to meet its financial and marketing objectives.
Here are a few pointers for an integrative negotiation:
- Take a principled stance.
- Discuss your wants and needs openly.
- To solve problems, use negotiation.
How to Improve Negotiation Skills in the Workplace and Collaborate Successfully
Having the right set of skills will help you in any endeavor, including negotiation. Negotiations become more fruitful if you are able to:
1. Prepare yourself
Never enter a negotiation in the dark. No amount of negotiation skills will help you if you don’t have context or awareness of what you are getting into. Hence, you must familiarize yourself with the product, service, or whatever the subject of the negotiation may be.
You should prepare by learning not only what you’ll be negotiating over, but also who you’ll be negotiating with and what kind of person they are. Make a task list of items to research before entering the negotiation so you don’t forget anything. That way, you’ll be able to present a compromise that will be acceptable to the other party.
The negotiation necessitates preparation to determine what you want. Consider what the best possible outcome is, what your least acceptable offer is, and what you will do if an agreement cannot be reached. A successful negotiation requires the ability to prepare, plan, and think ahead. Planning abilities are required not only for the negotiation process but also for determining how the terms will be implemented.
The best negotiators always have at least one backup plan, if not more. Consider all possible outcomes and be prepared for any of them.
3. Exhibit social and emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to control one’s own emotions as well as recognize the emotions of others. Being aware of the emotional dynamics during a negotiation can help you stay calm and focused on the main issues. If you are dissatisfied with the current negotiation, request a break so that you and the other party can return later with fresh perspectives.
4. Build rapport
The ability to establish rapport allows you to form relationships with others, in which both parties feel supported and understood. Building rapport necessitates you to not only effectively communicate your goals, but also understand the wants and needs of the other party. Rapport reduces tension, encourages collaboration, and increases the likelihood of reaching an agreement. Respect and active listening skills are essential for developing rapport.
5. Manage expectations
Just as you should enter a negotiation with a clear goal in mind, the other side will almost certainly have its own set of expectations. If you think you won’t be able to agree on each other’s terms, try adjusting your expectations. Skilled expectation management entails striking a balance between being a firm and a collaborative negotiator.
When negotiating, emotions can often take over and cause one to speak over the other person. That kind of aggressive approach is almost certain to backfire, or at the very least, keep the negotiation heated. Nobody wins in that kind of exchange, and a lot of time is wasted due to miscommunication.
Instead, practice active listening, which involves hearing not only what someone is saying but also how they are saying it, including their body language. You will learn more by listening intently than by engaging in a shouting match.
Identifying nonverbal cues and verbal skills to express yourself in an engaging manner are essential communication skills. Skilled negotiators can adjust their communication styles to meet the needs of the listener. By communicating clearly, you can avoid misunderstandings that could prevent you from reaching an agreement.
Negotiations aren’t always an “us versus them” scenario, so collaboration skills come in handy. Most negotiations are a type of collaboration, in which two parties with opposing viewpoints meet and work together to find a mutually satisfying solution. Negotiations will be less combative if everyone works together, and there will be no hard feelings when they are finished because everyone wins.
9. Be patient
Some negotiations can take a long time to complete, requiring renegotiation and counteroffers on occasion. Rather than rushing to a conclusion, negotiators frequently exercise patience to properly assess a situation and reach the best possible outcome for their clients.
10. Maintain Calmness
Emotional outbursts may feel good at the time, but they show the other party that you’ve lost control. This gives them an advantage because if you give in to frustration or other strong emotions, you’re more likely to agree to something you don’t want to, or worse, disrupt the entire negotiation process.
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