Effective Negotiation Skills: 10 Tips to Follow


Never enter into any agreement or negotiation from a point of desperation. The moment you show how desperate you are, you disarm yourself of the bargaining power. The value of the transaction will be compromised by your appetite & apparent desire. Rather stand back, gather yourself & your thoughts & reschedule the talks. Often we place a price tag on goods based on our needs. No one desires to spend more than the real value of product or service.

Question stands whether we adequately calculate and plan and prepare for negotiations, deals or agreements or we see the dotted line as the partying of the red sea, an imminent breakthrough and forget the fine print. I have watched with great interest how sudden bursts of joy at the signing of mergers between companies and political parties, even churches have turned into a series of mourning experiences as the dotted and signed document is activated. Before you can have the famous handshake to signal an agreement, consider your actions closely. Decisions you make at this point have long lasting effects on where your organization will be in the next foreseeable future.

Realise that those who have entrusted you with the negotiations responsibility bank on you to make decisions in the best interest of the organisation.

Here are a few negotiation guidelines

• Do some research and investigations on the other party before the meeting. Check trade references and outcomes of previous agreements the other party entered into. Use your checklist of non-negotiable to determine if you should proceed with negotiations. It may not be necessary to enter into any negotiation if the other party fails the “non-negotiable” test in advance.

• Prepare questions in advance which seek to get clarity on any clauses on documents you have previously received. Get your legal representative to look into and review contracts or agreements. Preparation entails anticipating questions and answering them before you engage. It entails presenting your best case and alternatives when called for hence it is important. There is nothing wrong in preparing for a stalemate position and how to break beyond it.

• Go into major meetings with a witness(es) or people who can help with discussion. This could be your Personal Assistant or senior Manager in your team. You may need someone who can give you hints and tips. Someone whom you can use eye contact with to determine whether you should proceed or not. Sometimes when you are alone negotiating with a panel you lose on the basis of numbers as you may have 5 active brains thinking ahead of you.

• Do not rush to make the decision – Always look at the negotiating party directly in the eye and avoid being bullied into making a decision here and now. The push must never be just to ensure the agreement is signed off without the parties taking ownership of the decisions they are making. Whenever there is a rush, it must flag within you that there could be something hidden in the agreement. Take your time. You don’t have to sign instantly.

• Understand the time factor – There is always a time conducive enough for negotiations to take place. You will not negotiate effectively when you are in a hurry or when there is fatigue on either side of the negotiation table. Depending on how tense the negotiations can be, it is healthy to call for a “time out” so that you regain yourself.

• Avoid emotional bargaining – Separate your own emotions from the issue being negotiated on. When you become angry or over excited you lose your composure and negotiating power.

• Avoid attacking the person but look at the matter under negotiation – There is a tendency to address personalities at the expense of the matter under discussion or negotiation. While it is important to know the kind of person you are negotiating with, the issue on hand supersedes personalities.

• Pay attention to detail – In the event that you get documents in the meeting without prior reading, it is important to read the fine print or give a specialist within your team to scrutinize while you discuss. The fine print is usually the source of all problems in any negotiation.

• Be prepared for compromise – Before you get into a negotiation process, you should know both your best case and worst case scenarios, the benefits and demerits of each case. You should obviously start the negotiation by putting on the table your best case. As you bargain, a little bit of compromise is necessary but not to go below your worst case scenario. I have heard it said that “in a negotiation, both parties must leave feeling like they won some and lost some”.

• Never make your desperation apparent to the other party – It is important to do a SWOT analysis of yourself and your team that you are going with. Once you know your strengths, you will not let someone with no deep knowledge of the current issue on the table lead the discussion. Do not expose the weaknesses you may have as the other party will ride on that making your proposal futile.

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