5 tips to improve your negotiation skills

Gain the edge and negotiate your way to success with these helpful tips. By Satyaki Sarkar

When it comes to running a successful business, one of the most important skills needed is the ability to negotiate well. It establishes you as a strong and efficient businessman, who is able to turn the tide of a situation to his favour when needed. To help you out, here are five ways to hone your negotiation skills.

1. Remember that negotiating isn’t about winning or compromising
A negotiation isn’t a battle of wills to see who wins by getting exactly what they want. If that’s what you’re thinking then you’re starting off on the wrong foot. Successful negotiations occur when both parties concentrate on what they need, why they need it, and whether they can arrive at the desired outcome via an alternate route that satisfies both, without needing either to make a compromise on their core requirements. When you start negotiating based on your interests, you can solve the problem by exploring every option available, resulting in an outcome that is favourable to both.

2. Research and plan thoroughly
While this might be obvious, a lot of people aren’t able to negotiate well simply because they do not possess an in depth knowledge of the other party, the organisation, the negotiator and why exactly the party is at the negotiating table. This will help you tweak your negotiating style accordingly, predict the arguments the other party might put forth, and how best to utilise that to your advantage. It will also help you figure out the absolute walk away point beyond which he/she would not compromise, and the best possible alternative outcome that both parties can be satisfied with. So, thorough research about the other party and a concrete plan of your negotiation strategy are a must.

3. Develop your people skills
A huge part of negotiation is determined by how skilled you are in managing and handling people. You need to be able to understand how your behaviour can affect theirs, how best to adapt your communication style to ensure you’re making the connections, impact etc. Verbal and non-verbal cues can have a huge influence. Profile the type of person you’re dealing with. Is he/she a dominant/power hungry/conscientious/rigid person? This will show you how best to adapt your approach to bring him over to your side, and successfully negotiate your way to success!

4. Learn body language cues
Body language can be a powerful weapon that can help you and achieve a favourable outcome. From small cues like the rapid blinking of eyes and uncomfortable shifting around, to other more prominent ones like raising one’s voice, body language can tell you a lot about a person’s pressure points and how best to use them to your advantage. Thus, it is always a good idea to practice reading people and understanding their behaviour and how they are affected by external stimulus, so you can use the skill to your advantage in a tough negotiation.

5. Know how to say no and at what point
Lastly, one of the most vital skills is the ability to say no, and possessing the knowledge of exactly when to say it. While being accommodating does have its advantages, being a pushover doesn’t. Assertiveness is a necessary trait on the negotiating table; you need to be able to stand your ground on the important factors that you absolutely cannot compromise on, the points you’re welling to let go of and point at which you will simply walk away. Having a firm knowledge of the absolutes will help you be clear and targeted in your communication to ensure a successful negotiation.

Photograph: Pressfoto/ 

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