Negotiation Skills

Negotiation Skills – the skills you need to negotiate effectively in life

Definition of Negotiation

Negotiation refers to the process of discussing issues openly and calmly to arrive at an agreement and understanding between two or more parties. It is a process in which people make decisions or settle differences by holding discussions.

The ultimate end of a negotiation process should be to end a dispute, avoid an argument, and find consensus. In any difference of opinion, each party always looks to assert their position and achieve their interests. However, it is important to apply the principles of fairness and justice to ensure that each party benefits from the outcome of negotiation. Negotiation requires individuals to gain a mutual understanding and benefit, and to establish lasting relationship after the negotiation process.

Importance of Negotiation

Whether as a student or an employee, one needs to develop negotiation skills in order to develop positive interpersonal relationship with people around them. In the job market, you will meet many people with varying interests and needs. You will need to work with them, but at the same time your needs are paramount. How do you ensure that you maintain healthy relations and still benefit from the group?

Here is a list of the advantages of having good negotiation skills:

  • To establish positive relations with peers and develop a sense of belonging
  • Professional and career development – you will become a better employee if you gain good negotiation skills. You can establish rapport with colleagues, solve problems easily, and make effective decisions at the workplace.
  • Solving Conflicts: Negotiation entails calm and proactive discussions, which eventually help team members to resolve their disputes effectively.
  • Effective communication: Negotiation helps people to become better and proficient at communication. During negotiation, individuals learn to exchange ideas and information quite effectively to address issues. Through negotiation, you can see through the eyes of others, and through your own eyes as well. As a result, it becomes possible to gain a broader and complete perspective of the situation and gain more information from others. Thus, negotiation helps people to learn how to listen and communicate effectively.
  • Problem Solving: You can solve problems affecting you as a team if you have good negotiation skills. In life, individuals will always face interpersonal and professional conflicts that need to be resolved in one way or another. Negotiation helps people to learn effective strategies used in solving the problems they encounter in every-day life.
  • Decision Making: Negotiation helps people to make decisions every day. At school, home or work, we are required to make decisions. Most of the times, our decisions affect other people as well. Thus, negotiation helps people make effective decisions affecting teams or organizations.
  • Improves selfconcept: Negotiation helps people to understand themselves better. By listening to the perspectives of others and reading through their minds, an individual is able to gain an understanding of themselves and the people around them.
  • Self-confidence: Knowing to express oneself through the negotiation process leads to self-confidence and high self-esteem.

Therefore, negotiation applies to any situation in human life. We experience negotiation at work, home and school. When a student gets out of school and meets new people in the job market, they need good negotiation skills to be able to communicate, solve conflicts, and relate positively with others.

Situations that Require Negotiation

There are several situations of life that require negotiation:

  • Communicating with peers – relating well with peers to avoid peer pressure.
  • Pre-marital sex – you need to negotiate well with your partner on whether, why, and how you should engage in pre-marital sex. Mutual understanding is needed to avoid breakage of relationships due to misunderstanding on the issue of sex.
  • Drug Abuse: You need to make appropriate decisions when it comes to the use of drugs and alcohol. If you do not have good negotiation skills, you will be misled to engage in drugs. If you are good in negotiation, you will persuade your peers not to engage in alcohol and drug abuse.
  • War: Every society faces situations of wars. Communities sometimes come together to discuss and negotiate how to resolve inter-community conflicts and wars. Negotiation is needed to prevent war and maintain peace.
  • Internal Conflicts: Negotiation is also needed to resolve internal conflicts at home, school or work. For instance, employees in a company may disagree on how to spend some money. If the team does not agree, the money might end up being wasted. For efficient use of resources, it is necessary for the team to negotiate effectively.
  • Juvenile Delinquency: Young people too often engage in delinquent behaviors. This occurs when a person is not able to stand on their own beliefs and take individual responsibility. By following peers and not being able to control emotions, one can be persuaded to engage in crime. However, negotiation can be used by the individual to convince others that crime is not good. This leads to reduced delinquency among young people.

The Negotiation Process:

Negotiation is a process that takes a number of steps. It is necessary to prepare well before negotiation and to discuss calmly during negotiations. Here is a list of the steps taken during a negotiation process:

  • Preparation: During preparation, the individuals make decisions on where, when and why they will hold a discussion to solve a problem. The negotiating parties should have a timeline on when to start and complete the negotiation. You also gather the facts and information related to the situation. For example, if it is a conflict at school you must know who is affected, what subjects were involved in the issue, and what school rules apply.
  • Discussion: With the facts in hand, the team can now hold discussions to dissect the information. During negotiation, the parties need to have questioning, communication, and listening skills. Taking notes may at times be necessary to gather the information of others and understand their perspectives. Listening is key. Do not react and assert your position without giving the other person a chance to give their opinion. Empathy is also necessary – put yourself into the shoes of the other person and look through their eyes.
  • Clarification of Goals: In this stage, the negotiating parties should list down their goals, interests and views from the information they gathered during discussion. The team can then list the above factors in order of priority. Which of the issues you listed is most important? For instance, one of my goals would be to advance in my career, and that could be my first priority factor during the negotiation. So I will put that goal at the top of my list.
  • Identify a win-win outcome: After listing key goals and interests, you now negotiate for a win-win outcome that is mutually beneficial to everyone. This is usually the best result. Not all your needs will be met, and not all the needs of the other party will be met. But you arrive at compromises where you give up the least important interests to accommodate the interests of the other party. For instance, if your employer negotiates with you terms of employment. You may be required to choose between career training and increased salary because the employer has an interest in reducing expenses. If your priority is career advancement, you give up salary increment so that the employer can spend money in your training and development. This way, you reach a win-win situation where you gain career skills and development while the employer reduces their expenses.
  • Agreement: Once both sides understand their viewpoints and interests in order of priority, it becomes easier to arrive at an agreement. Each party should be open-minded in order to reach an agreement. The agreement should be clear so that each party knows what has been agreed on.
  • Implementation of the Agreement: Here it is about implementing what you have agreed. If the agreement is to provide training opportunities to an employee, then the employer should start developing training workshops or training kits.

Negotiating Techniques

During negotiation, there are certain strategies and techniques you need to develop:

  • Consider the viewpoints of the other party
    • Listen carefully
    • Appreciate the self-worth of the other party
    • Be consistent with your interests and goals
    • Avoid indoctrination and hardline – be flexible
    • Do not patronize
    • Avoid interruptions when others are speaking
  • Stay Calm and Rational
    • Do not jump into conclusions
    • Criticize your views
    • Reflect on what you are saying
    • Think before you speak
    • Avoid blaming people
    • Do not make hostile remarks
    • Be proactive, not reactive
    • Avoid sarcasm and rejections
    • Control your emotions
  • Be Precise in Your Speech
    • Don’t generalize things
    • Be specific
    • Use the pronoun “I”
    • Be fully descriptive
    • Focus on the key points and observe time
  • Move yourself towards the win-win situation
    • Develop a frame of reference
    • Clarify the issue being discussed.
    • Be open during the discussion
    • Take time to establish enduring solutions
    • Be positive in your decisions
  • Be Positive
    • Encouraging
    • Immediacy
    • Relief
  • Accommodating, Compromise, Collaborating – Win-Win

Values Associated with Negotiations

  • Cooperation
  • Tolerance
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Honesty
  • Responsibility

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