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How to Improve your Negotiation Skills

How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Here are ten ways to improve your negotiation skills:

  1. Never GIVE concessions; instead TRADE them.
  2. Prepare negotiations in advance.
  3. Identify your entry and exit points to the negotiation.
  4. Identify your negotiable variables.
  5. Try to estimate what the others entry and exit points might be.
  6. Try to estimate what their negotiable variables might be.
  7. Be prepared to walk away.
  8. Operate according to the principle of reason, NOT emotion.
  9. Always be polite and professional.
  10. Keep accurate contemporaneous written records of the events.

1. Never GIVE concessions, instead TRADE them.

The first rule of negotiation is that it involves a MUTUAL EXCHANGE of values.

Consequently, you should never give a concession without first gaining one from the other side.

The phrase to remember is, "YES, but only if you ..."

Yes, I will give you a discount, but only if you will commit to purchasing three.

Yes, you can borrow the car, but only if you tidy your bedroom first.

2. Prepare negotiations in advance.

In order to prepare your negotiation, you need to recognise that the goal is to find the connection between three fields.

  • What you want.
  • What they want.
  • What is logically possible.

Communication - Persuasive Communication : How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

3. Identify your entry and exit points to the negotiation.

In all negotiations you will need to decide:

  • Your first offer. Your opening gambit. Your most optimistic request.
  • Your final offer. Your last bid. Your most pessimistic request, before you walk away.
  • The steps that exist between the first and the last offers.

Think of a staircase. A top and a bottom, with many intermediate steps.

4. Identify your negotiable variables.

A negotiable variable is a factor that you can add into the equation (or one that you can remove) in order to make your proposition more attractive to the other person without damaging your own self-interest.

The ideal is to have negotiable variables that are perceived as high value to the other person, but they are of low cost for you to provide.

You need to decide what negotiable variables you can put into each step, that lies between the top and the bottom of the negotiation staircase.

5. Try to estimate what the other's entry and exit points might be.

Just as you have prepared your steps, you should assume the opposite team has prepared their top and bottom, entry and exit points. You should try to put yourself in their shoes and estimate what they are likely to do. The act of putting yourself in their shoes will give you an insight into what to expect during the negotiation.

6. Try to estimate what their negotiable variables might be.

You should try to estimate what they might be prepared to offer you in the form of concessions or negotiable variables. Again, doing this mental preparation will give you an advantage since you will be more likely to predict the actions of the other party.

7. Be prepared to walk away.

You MUST be prepared to walk away from the negotiation.

Therefore, you must have somewhere to walk to.

This is called a BATNA - a Best Alternative To a Negotiated Answer.

If the other party thinks you cannot or will not walk away, then they have the competitive advantage and they will drive you into the ground.

You must at least appear to have practical alternatives and be prepared to walk away from the negotiation, without a deal.

8. Operate according to the principle of reason, NOT emotion.

There are two parts to every mind.

  • A logical, rational part.
  • An emotional, sometimes irrational part.

When you are negotiating, please ensure you are running on reason.

DO NOT let your emotions gain control over you and cause you to act irrationally.

Remember that the other person may act in ways designed to upset your emotional stability.

They are doing it on purpose (ask Donald Trump for details!).

You must keep control over your emotions and play it with cool logic.

9. Always be polite and professional.

Maintain always a professional and polite negotiating style.

  • Don't come-on too strong.
  • And don't try to become best friends with the opposing party.

Your aim is not to be their best friend, but rather; to find a written agreement that will satisfy the needs of both parties.

10. Keep accurate contemporaneous written records of the events.

Learn the art of listening, speaking and writing at the same time. Police detectives quickly find out that they must keep accurate contemporaneous written notes of what is said during a meeting.

You need to record, who said what, to whom.

Get everything down in writing as it is being said, and you will have a massive advantage over those people who are talking without taking notes of what is going on.

Taking accurate contemporaneous written notes is a skill you should master, because it will make you a better negotiator.

Negotiation Skills Training

Learn about all the above skills and more, on our one-day Negotiation Skills Training Course which we can deliver at your premises.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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  • The Art of Negotiation
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