How To Improve Negotiation Skills: 10 Strategies You Can Use Today

— How To Improve Negotiation Skills: 10 Strategies You Can Use Today

Have you ever felt like you didn’t have the communication skills to enter into a negotiation and come out successfully at the other end? 

You’re not alone.

Negotiating is a part of our everyday lives. But for some, it’s a means to an end — and this can be stressful.

We want to show you how to formulate a plan of action to improve negotiation and communication skills. These techniques will give you the confidence to enter into any negotiation, at any time.

What Are the Key Principles of Negotiation?

In negotiations, getting to “yes” doesn’t always mean success. 

In many circumstances, success is reaching a win-win where each party feels as though they’ve been heard, understood, and considered fairly.

Quite simply, the key principles are negotiation are:

  • Identifying the situation or problem
  • Find a solution; and
  • Reaching an agreement
 

When considering the type of negotiation you wish to engage in, remember that there are only two types of negotiations:

  1. Integrative: A collaborative negotiation where both parties feel equally satisfied
  2. Positional: A combative or confrontational negotiation where one party leaves feeling like they’ve lost
 

By practicing the principles of negotiation, it should become a more natural and worry-free part of your everyday life.

How Can You Improve Your Negotiation Skills at Work?

When putting together a plan of action to improve negotiation and communication skills, you’ll want to consider these 8 essential elements of successful negotiations: 

  1. Planning in advance
  2. Setting your goals
  3. Knowing your boundaries
  4. Considering alternatives
  5. Practicing different strategies
  6. Listening to the other party’s needs
  7. Playing your power moves
  8. Aiming for a win-win solution
 

Effectively implementing these strategies to improve negotiation skills starts with the right training. The Maker Group is a team of highly qualified, experienced commercial negotiators who bring decades of experience to your business.

Our fully customizable workshops and negotiation training will give your team the skills needed to tackle even the toughest negotiations. 

Why It’s Important to Have Strategies to Improve Negotiation Skills

A successful negotiation will contribute significantly to the success of your business. 

Good negotiations help to:

 

Poor negotiations that leave one party feeling unsatisfied will help you avoid issues and conflicts in the future. Equipping yourself or your team with the necessary skills to carry a negotiation through will reap sustainable benefits.

10 Tips to Improve Negotiation Skills at Work and in Life

#1: Plan in Advance

It’s important to gather as much information in advance as you can. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you want out of the deal?
  • What are you willing to compromise?
  • Do you have a good argument?
  • How will the other party likely respond?
  • Are your requests reasonable?
  • What are the best and worst-case scenarios?

#2: Set Your Goals

Setting your goals in advance will help you to remain firm where you’re not willing to compromise and bend where you are. By knowing exactly what you’re going to ask for and building your case in advance, your arguments will seem far more credible.

For example … 

If you know your client is going to ask for a lower price, then plan to sell them more products. 

By setting this goal in advance, you’ll be better prepared to offer the lower price and also know exactly what you could sell to complement the sale.

#3: Know Your Boundaries

In every deal, there are ‘non-negotiables’. Knowing what these are in advance makes it easier to communicate what you expect and what you’re willing to deliver.

Boundaries don’t necessarily equate to putting up walls. Nor do you need to be rigid or hard. What it means is setting clear guidelines while making the other party feel secure and safe in the negotiation.

Setting boundaries adds confidence to the entire process.

#4: Consider Alternatives

Consider a backup plan. If negotiations are successful, you should not be walking away empty-handed — even if you’ve had to compromise what you originally asked for. 

What’s the best alternative? 

You may consider offering this alternative as an option if the other party is firmly rejecting your original ask. But first, you should find out the “why” behind their rejection. 

Perhaps you’re not being offered the asking price on a building lease and the other party is firm on their maximum price. 

Why?

Maybe they need the fixed costs to remain lower for budgeting purposes, but you could potentially shift some of the dynamic costs, such as electricity or maintenance to the other party.

Everything is negotiable. Knowing your ‘alternatives’ in advance will give you the upper hand and prevent you from feeling caught off guard.

#5: Practice Different Strategies

Practice makes progress, and negotiations are no different. If you wish to improve your negotiation strategies then you’ll want to take the time to rehearse what you’ll say and how you’ll counter before you enter the negotiation.

The key is to feel prepared and calm with each of your strategic responses.

The professional negotiators at The Maker Group bring decades of experience in commercial negotiations and strategies.

Our workshops are fully customized and designed to give your company a plan of action to improve negotiation and communication skills across your entire team.

We’ll teach a variety of negotiation techniques through real-time role-play, giving your team the confidence to implement these strategies the next time they hit the sales floor.

For more information, contact us today.

#6: Shift Your Mindset

It’s easy to get caught up in outdated habits and default to the same old way you’ve been doing it for years.

But, you have to ask yourself … 

Has this really been successful?

Probably not.

Communication has evolved. So naturally, negotiation tactics have evolved too.

Make it a daily habit to remind yourself that it’s time to do things differently. Shake things up. Get out of your comfort zone.

This means shifting your mindset — changing the beliefs and assumptions that have been guiding your approach until now.

#7: Play Your Power Moves

Negotiations are more likely to bend in your favor if you can read what it is the other party truly desires from the negotiation.

Are they looking for something rare? Many people desire something more when it seems unattainable.

Others respond to indifference. Appearing as though the sale is of no consequence to you can take the pressure off, making the other party feel comfortable and confident in their decision.

Or … 

Maybe it’s time to walk away. Having the courage to leave the deal on the table can often lead to better terms offered by the other party.

#8: Remember, Communication Is Key

Communicating is a give and take. While it’s important to express your desired outcome, it’s equally important to listen to the other party’s point of view.

Everyone wants to feel heard. And by listening, you may rethink your original position —  which could be beneficial to both parties in the long run.

Expressing yourself clearly will allow the other party to hear you out, allowing them to reasonably negotiate with you as well.

When communicating, you should:

  • Establish trust: Let the other party know that their opinion matters and that you’re truly listening.
  • Build a rapport: Finding a connection or a commonality that brings you closer will lead to open-mindedness and the likelihood that the other party will listen to what you have to say.
  • Watch your body language: Appearing stiff, rigid, or closed off could raise the defenses of the other party. Practice welcoming body language, such as leaning in or relaxed postures.
  • Be personable: Negotiations don’t need to be cold and calculated. If you’re a naturally funny person, don’t be afraid to add some humor to the deal.
  • Stay calm: Losing your temper will almost always lead to losing the deal. 

#9: Expect to Be Caught Off Guard

Expect the unexpected. We’ve all heard this saying before.

Negotiations are no different. If you enter into a negotiation with the fear that it won’t go well — or that it will last too long for your liking — then you’re setting yourself up for failure right from the start.

Walking into negotiations with the expectation that you could be caught off guard will help you to mentally prepare in advance. When you’re prepared, you naturally react with a more level head.

One way to avoid situations such as these is to set an agenda in advance. Highlight your key talking points and priorities. Then send them to the other party, asking them to do the same.

If the other party tries to throw you off by adding points that were not on the original agenda, you can buy yourself time. Let them know that you’ll have to get back to that point since it wasn’t on the agenda — and that you’ll need time to consider it from all angles.

#10: Aim for a Win-Win Solution

Try to find a win-win in every negotiation. Think about what you have to offer the other party — not just what they have to offer you.

Ask the other party what their desired outcome is. Use this information to reach a solution that benefits everyone. 

Is there a way you can incentivize them to take the deal? Is there a compromise you’re willing to make that will benefit them?

When you negotiate with everyone’s purpose and goals in mind, you’re far more likely to reach a deal that everyone is happy with.

Empower yourself by fighting for what’s fair for you while also giving something fair to the other party.

When you conduct yourself professionally and keep an open mind, everyone wins.

How The Maker Group Can Help Your Team Implement a Plan of Action to Improve Negotiation and Communication Skills

As you negotiate, some of the discomforts that must be overcome include:

  • Rejection 
  • Conflict; and
  • Uncertainty

Most people shy away from negotiations for these reasons, however, with a proper plan of action to improve negotiation and communication skills, it no longer has to feel uncomfortable. 

Learning how to recognize and accept that conflict is uncomfortable is okay — and we can show you how.

The Maker Group is composed of expert negotiators and trainers who deliver customized workshops, training, and consultation that will help your team execute flawless negotiations. 

To find out more about our tailored-to-you negotiation training, workshops, and negotiation consulting services, get in touch today.