Negotiations begin early in life. Children negotiate with each other to gain possession of their favourite toys. Customers negotiate to get the best buy in sales showrooms and shopping malls. Often marriages are arranged after a series of negotiations. Life, it seems, involves more of negotiation than we have dreamed of. If that is true, then let us look at a few things that make a good negotiator:
A good negotiator plans and prepares for negotiations. He should process all available information. He should also learn to anticipate new elements and power plays that might come into play at a later stage in the negotiation process.
A good negotiator always keeps long-range goals in mind. He operates on the basis of mutual trust and respect. He recognizes genuine needs of the other party. So he tries his best to satisfy them even as he gets his point across.
A good negotiator is never afraid to ask. He is not deterred by “No” answers and closed doors. He knocks again, surfaces objections and clarifies doubts. He seeks to reopen bridges of communication. To re-establish dialogue is his highest priority when negotiations are deadlocked.
A good negotiator learns to have an intuitive sense for knowing the best deal. He has an ability to recognize when the other party is holding back or when he has offered the best deal possible. He knows when to concede and how to close without squeezing the other party too tight.
A good negotiator knows that negotiation is not an end in itself but a process. He is aware that both parties are answerable and accountable. Therefore he tries to make negotiations a winning process. It succeeds when both parties are able to carry back satisfactory answers without erosion of mutual trust and respect.
A good negotiator has to be flexible. He should be sure of what he can negotiate about and what he cannot (non-negotiables). When both parties want to have a positive outcome (especially true with relationships), things quickly fall in place. When long-range goals are kept in mind negotiations produce better results than predicted.
A good negotiator is never in a hurry to close a deal. He is a master of the waiting game. But like a cat playing with a mouse (Tom and Jerry), he knows when to go in for the kill. It is all a matter of knowing the right moment. By no means are these thoughts exhaustive. But still it is always good to remember fundamentals.
Above all, remember it is people you are dealing with. They too have dreams, ambitions, aspirations, fear of rejection and failure, and the fear of making mistakes and appearing stupid at the end of the day.
If you can be compassionate even when appearing to be unyielding and tough; you can be a good negotiator. And as a leader, you can not only strike deals, influence people and rally up a team with united purpose behind you but also keep relationships growing. Isn’t that awesome?