Let’s Shake On it. Or not.  

Let’s Shake On it. Or not.  

Navigating the art of Negotiation in the Working World  

Negotiation. It’s a big word, and it comes with a big deal – or no deal at all. This depends on the negotiator, but it also relies heavily on the internal and external factors of any negotiation. Over time, we’ve been conditioned to believe that negotiation is reserved for the talented few; the ones that were born with the gift of the gab. Untrue. Research shows us that negotiation is a mental and physical skill that takes practice, preparation and confidence.

The hard fact remains that life is a series of negotiations you should be prepared for – both personally and professionally. The first port of call is to recognise that the way we negotiate has changed over the years. In current times, a collaborative negotiation process results in a more favourable outcome than a competitive approach. Research shows that the negotiation topic is the main moderator for the negotiation strategy used but these days, a collaborative approach always comes out on top.

One imperative thing to remember, before you enter any negotiation, is that relationships are at the core of the favourable outcome. Essentially, there are always two people on the side of a negotiation: the Negotiator and the Decision Maker; both hold power and both, believe it or not, have feelings. Going into a negotiation takes a level of maturity that recognises the humanness in each player, and therein lies the fragility of the relationship (and the outcome!). Note to self: it is important not to harm the relationship through the negotiation process – even if you win the negotiation with your hard bargaining, it could land up damaging the real value that gets created later.

With this in mind, here are a few strategies and tactics for you to become more persuasive in the workplace but without creating a competitive dynamic:

  1. Preparation

As much as preparation is key, masters of negotiation understand the process is one of exploration; one that demands ongoing learning and adapting. As a negotiator, make sure flexibility is built into your game plan – this will help you adapt quickly to a challenging situation or question and perhaps help re-direct your negotiation.

  1. Establish the relationship and build trust

Understanding the person you are negotiating with and discovering their values and interests is a great foundation for a successful negotiation. Not only will you gain key insights to help you navigate the process, but you make space to connect with your counterpart on a human level. In so doing, you gain power in your position as a non-threatening entity, spurring a sense of trust and respect. As Abraham Lincoln said, “If you wish to win a man over to your ideas, first make him your friend”. Holding integrity in business is what will set you apart from other business leaders.

  1. Know the objective, but stay flexible

The goal here is a win-win situation, everyone needs to gain and benefit from the negotiation. Learning win-win strategies can help you develop lasting work relationships and possibly even secure future business opportunities. One of the ways this can be executed, is through a collaborative approach. Focus on the current objective, while recalibrate the outcome with your counterpart. Never assume the primary objective will stay the same; both of you hold the power to change this – and when it changes with both parties in the room – it’s a handshake.

  1. Communication cues are key

Successful negotiators have learnt to pivot an agreement through verbal and non-verbal communication; these kings of swing believe non-verbal cues are as important as the spoken word. Observing body language, facial expressions and gestures can inform your strategies and tools used. Asking the other party the right questions and then observing the ‘how’ in which they respond verbally and non-verbally (body language) offers an informative way to proceed to your next move.

  1. Timing is everything

You should aim to close off your negotiation as soon as possible – the longer the negotiation continues, the lower the chance of a favourable outcome. You want to eliminate outside influencers and reward your counterpart with extra time to work on their strategy and defence. Strike while the iron is hot; don’t delay your argument, your response, nor your decision making. If the current conditions of any negotiation are favourable, it’s up to the negotiator to do everything in their power to conclude the agreement.


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