Today’s diverse and dynamic work environment requires individuals who can collaborate and compete to deliver results. Industry studies indicate that soft skills are a critical hiring differentiator for 77% of employers. Competencies like active listening, interpersonal communication, and negotiating style are viewed on equal footing as hard skills by hiring managers across the board. But how can one build these negotiation skills?
Read on to know about the different types of negotiation skills and how you can refine them to stand out from the competition!
7 Negotiation Skills for Career Success
Negotiation is a way to deal with conflicting human wants. It takes a whole new form in workplaces where every employee has unique needs and aspirations. But if everyone is set in their ways of thinking and acting, how could we ever reach a consensus? The following list compiles some actionable steps for developing this ability.
1. Bargain for the Best Alternative
Wise negotiators spend time analyzing a problem from different angles to arrive at a best-fit solution. They push for an alternative, not for personal gain but because it will provide long-term benefits.
Here, it is crucial to get behind the “why” of the issue and communicate it to the parties involved. It would help if you also considered your counterpart’s interests and constraints to better position the bargain. Your goal? To turn your adversaries into partners by adopting a comprehensive negotiation strategy.
You should also note that different people bring different styles to the table, depending on their personalities, beliefs, and experiences.
- Individuals seek to maximize their outcomes.
- Cooperators ensure the fair distribution of resources.
- Competitors want to get a better deal than their opponents.
- Altruists place others’ needs above their own.
Experts believe that there is no such thing as the perfect negotiating style. The answer lies in building on your natural talents and incorporating persuasive elements according to the situation at hand.
2. Negotiate the Process
It is impossible to accomplish goals unless the team agrees on the fundamentals. So, make efforts to get the procedural hassles out of the way before you begin any discussion. What is the purpose of the dialogue? What is your primary argument? When and where will you meet? What will be the seating plan? Address these questions at the outset.
It could be a good idea to treat your pre-meeting conversations as the testing ground for the negotiation. Here are some useful tips:
- Set the agenda to have a focused talk and dismiss assumptions that may complicate the matter.
- Observe your counterpart’s communication and negotiation style while setting the time and place.
- Set the tone for the ensuing deliberation by demonstrating your negotiation style.
In the end, you should aim to build a trust-based foundation and establish that you are open to resolving the problem with constructive discourse and critical analysis.
3. Build a Relationship
It is easy to get caught up in deadlines and routines in an office environment. But when you are trying to reach an agreement with another person, it helps to rapport with them. So, please take a moment and get to know your team members before you start working with them. Please find out how they work, what speaks to them, and where their motivations lie.
A brief introductory call before sending out the email could do wonders when embarking on a new project together. If you are more comfortable with written communication, choose your tone carefully. Above all, you should be clear about the intent and substance of your conversation.
You can choose from a plethora of online learning options to build these negotiation skills. Opt for courses that assist you in:
- Structuring your thoughts;
- Articulating your point of view;
- Presenting your opinion with confidence;
- Writing accurately and effectively;
- Speaking with empathy and clarity.
4. Ask Intelligent & Skillful Questions
Active listening is central to asking good questions. Instead of thinking about what you will say next, listen to the other party’s argument carefully. Paraphrase their points to confirm whether your understanding of the issue is correct. Acknowledge the subjects that you agreed with. Then, proceed with your counterargument. This could be an excellent way to inspire a similar response from your counterparts.
It is also beneficial to put forth leading questions rather than “yes/no” questions. For example, “Don’t you think it is a great idea?” could trigger a more positive response than asking, “Do you think this is the right way to go?”
Since your effort is to gather more information, you need to craft neutral queries that encourage detailed answers. So, do your homework and have a list of potential hindrances handy.
5. Recognize Anchoring Bias
Research on anchoring bias reveals that people tend to get attached to the initial piece of information they receive.
In a negotiation, the party making the first offer is the anchor. The traditional reasoning advised that you should let the other side initiate. But if the anchoring bias were to hold, you could exert a powerful influence by going first.
If your counterpart makes the first move, you could still apply your interest-based bargaining skills and create value by offering trade-offs. When you know that fixating on the first-given numbers or solutions is common, you will be less attached to them while presenting your arguments.
Such knowledge is difficult to access when you are starting out in a profession. Therefore, negotiation skills training is an integral part of placement interview preparations.
6. Avoid Unnecessary Conflicts
Skilled negotiators know that there’s value in leaving the relationship intact. They exercise their creativity and prepare options for mutual gain, finding ways of aligning interests.
You can begin by contemplating: What holds a lesser value for me but a higher value to others? Can I trade this thing to resolve? Also, do not disqualify any feelings of discomfort or frustration. Instead, recognize them and move ahead with an understanding of the consequences.
Another best practice is to extend multiple equivalents offers simultaneously. This method increases the probability of getting a response in your favored direction. Even when the other side rejects an offer, you can build on the option they liked best and reach a conclusion that pleases both parties.
Prior experience in planning and strategy development serves as an added advantage for professionals in this respect. Following a structured approach has multiple merits, namely:
- The negotiation process is less stressful.
- You do not have to go through a series of positional compromises.
- Dispute resolution is faster and easier.
- Creative solutions get implemented.
7. Plan for Implementation
Once you have settled on a particular course of action with an organization or fellow team members, you should always put the agreement in writing. Negotiation skills can be useful while writing the dispute-resolution clauses of these documents.
Besides, the long-term durability of your contract depends on the way you decide milestones. The commitments and deadlines should be such that everyone involved is committed to following them. Communication, team orientation, and persuasion are highly desirable qualities for this purpose. If all else fails, you would have to renegotiate and repeat the entire process. Perhaps it would require a little less effort when a procedure is already in place.
Developing A Core Negotiation Strategy
The tips mentioned above can guide you in developing a strong strategy that saves time, increases productivity, and lets you reach preferred outcomes.
While crafting an action plan, professionals should emphasize people skills and joint-problem solving to achieve the best results. Familiarity with concepts like BATNA comes in handy. BATNA stands for “Best Alternative to A Negotiated Agreement.” The term was first coined by Fisher and Ury in the book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Without Giving In. It provides a systematic way of thinking about group decision-making and addressing conflict situations.
How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills?
The sections above highlight different types of negotiation skills, namely:
- Emotional Intelligence
- Problem-solving skills
These soft skills are useful for business development professionals and management executives and for everyone entering the modern world of work. Now, let’s see how you can acquire them.
When you are preparing for job interviews, self-evaluation is critical. You first need to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie and then work on overcoming the gaps. Prospective employers can test your soft skills in the following ways:
- By inquiring: “What is your leadership style?”
- By probing: “How do you deal with a work conflict situation?”
- By presenting a real-life problem or case, asking you to suggest a solution.
Regular feedback and mentoring can help you connect the dots and realize your goals. upGrad’s online courses offer 360-degree career support, including negotiation skills training, to learners globally. The programs include personalized sessions with industry leaders and interview prep guidance.
In a nutshell, negotiation skills help professionals create and claim value. And you would do well to master them sooner rather than later!
Why are negotiation skills important?
Negotiation skills are necessary for any group decision-making process. From an organizational perspective, addressing disjointed requirements can be challenging in the absence of skilled professionals. So,
What are the different types of negotiation skills?
Planning, strategizing, emotional intelligence, communication, teamwork, and persuasion are some of the most common negotiation capabilities preferred by employers globally. These soft skills help set you apart from the competition and demonstrate your leadership aptitude to hiring managers.
How can negotiation skills training help?
In the modern work environment, online courses are excellent for personal and professional development. These certifications and programmes offer all-round career support, placement interview prep, and mentoring to help candidates identify and refine their negotiation styles.