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How to Become a Successful Negotiator in 10 Steps

July 22, 2014

By: Omnia Group

You may not be in a position to negotiate the next Nuclear Arms Treaty, but sharpening your negotiation skills makes good sense no matter what business you’re in. Negotiating is an art, and some people are a lot better at it than others. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work on it and practice to improve your skill.

There are numerous reasons for conflicts in the workplace, and often, managers are put in a.

Employees can be upset because of:

    • Misunderstandings about expectations of a job
    • One employee feels he is overworked while others aren’t working as hard.
    • Differentiation in salaries for similar positions
    • A difference of opinion on the goals of a project
    • Alternative approaches to solving a problem
    • Perception of favoritism that one employee’s opinions are more valued than another’s
    • Miscommunications resulting in people going down two different paths on the same assignment
    • Lack of respect between one employee and another
    • Jealousy regarding promotions within a group

“So much in life is a negotiation – so even if you’re not in business, you have opportunities to practice all around you.”

~ Kevin O’Leary, Canadian Businessman, Investor, Writer and TV personality

The list is boundless. Any time you get a group of individuals together, they are bound to disagree on certain things. Hopefully, most of these differences can be resolved among those involved. Often just sitting down and talking it out works fine.

Sometimes, it takes an independent mediator to call a meeting between the parties involved and hold a negotiation session.

Here are 10 steps to follow to be a successful negotiator:

1) Clarify the issue at hand.

Ensure both sides agree on what the problem really is and discuss the same thing.

2) Gather the facts for both sides of the issue and understand them.

Make sure they are the facts and not hearsay or someone’s opinion.

3) Understand each party’s position and their reasons for believing the way they do.

Put yourself in their shoes and try to see the issue from their perspective.

4) Defuse the tendency for the parties to want to compete during the session.

Be sure those involved know that the desired outcome is to reach a win-win solution and an expectation of compromise on everyone’s part.

5) Listen to the participants as they talk.

People are a lot more willing to compromise if they feel their position is being heard and considered.

6) Set ground rules for meeting conduct.

Make sure the meeting doesn’t become a debate. Keep the players in a discussion frame of mind. Don’t allow critiquing others’ opinions unless it’s done constructively based on factual information. No attacking allowed.

7) Watch for emotional land mines and try to avoid them.

You can do this by observing body language, tone of voice, language used, eye contact, or lack thereof. Listen to what’s not being said as well as what someone is saying.

8) Continue to ask both parties' questions to clarify statements, opinions, positions, and the reasoning behind those positions.

9) Remain as neutral as possible. 

Be certain you are cognizant of your own beliefs on the issue and do not let them cloud the process.

10) Once an agreement is made, layout a plan to adhere to and schedule a follow-up meeting to continue the discussion on the decision's success.

Understand that not every conflict has a win-win solution. If an agreement cannot be reached, adjourn the session, let everyone regroup, and come back later. If a compromise still cannot be met, then management may need to step in and resolve the issue to avoid a stalemate and the loss of valuable time.

If there is no mediator, and you are one of the participants, you can still follow these 10 steps to keep the discussion moving toward a positive outcome. Remember to keep an open mind, listen to all sides, and understand where the other person is coming from. Conflict resolution through negotiations is a soft skill that is worth its weight in gold in everyday business. It’s important to continue to practice it throughout the different aspects of your life.

Omnia Group

For over 30 years, we’ve helped organizations across the world improve and optimize their workforce operations and company cultures. While we take a unique, scientific approach to hiring, development and retention, we also believe every business is a people business. Our passionate advisors always put people first.

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