My Proven Strategies To Sharpen Your Leadership Negotiation Skills
Leadership negotiation skills are crucial and there are some strategies to master them. As a leader, mastering sound negotiation techniques can help you solve many difficult situations. This article shares my proven strategies for leaders to resolve disagreements easily and sharpen your negotiation skills.
As a leader, you are probably involved in negotiations on a daily basis, even if you don’t realize it.
Any time you attempt to reach an agreement with another party through dialogue, you are negotiating. If you negotiate well and achieve an outcome that benefits both parties, you will build trust and improve your relationship with the other party.
Negotiation is a vital component of leadership.
You can use it to resolve differences in opinion, challenges in the workplace, or to get from disagreement to consensus. In this article, we will talk about why negotiation is important in leadership and how to improve your leadership negotiation skills.
Being the boss doesn’t mean ordering everyone around.
Management is actually full of constant negotiations between customers, employees, vendors, and the c-suite. Deadlines, costs and workload are all up for dispute depending on the manager’s confidence and knowledge of their company. No project is final until everyone agrees.
Many negotiators end up in leadership roles because of their skills with people.
One of your main jobs in life, one that will lead to increasing levels of self-confidence, is to become more effective in influencing others by learning great negotiation skills and choosing good questions to ask.
Being able to negotiate is one of the most useful skills a leader can have.
Negotiation is the key to success. Negotiations take many forms, but they tend to function the same way at the end of the day. We’ll go over seven proven negotiation skills and strategies and how to improve them so you can be the best negotiator out there.
Strategy #1: Shoot for a Win-Win Solution
From a leadership point of view, a negotiation should ideally not be a win-lose scenario. Keep in mind that the majority of negotiations involve individuals you work with on an ongoing basis.
Practice empathy and try to understand the perspective of the other person.
Ask questions to understand the issue being presented to you. Be creative and stimulate discussions that will help you both find win-win scenarios and walk away satisfied. Once you stop looking at negotiation as a source of conflict, you can start successfully navigating problems based on common ground. After you determine the elements that everyone agrees on, the actual problem you disagree on might seem much smaller.
Understanding the difference between position and interest and how to move from one to the other is essential.
A position is a statement of what someone wants. What can be explored is the ‘why?’ behind your position. This is giving up your position to explore your interests, what you are each interested in getting or doing that led to your position. In this way you create space for shared-interest and mutually beneficial outcomes. It’s a key mindset to successful negotiations.
We tend to think of negotiations as straightforward win/lose propositions — one person wins, the other loses.
But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Try not to focus on your position and their position. If you think of negotiations as a way to find out what the other person needs, as opposed to getting what you want, you’ll go a long way toward solving even some of the biggest problems.
It is always great to set high expectations. It is also good to be realistic about them.
As a leader you should start preparing for alternative solutions of the negotiations. What happens if the original plan cannot land an agreement? Do you have backup options? If you don’t, start working on them when preparing for your future negotiations. This will allow you to be more collaborative and flexible depending on the situation.
Strategy #2: Plan Ahead
Negotiation happens before you even step foot in the negotiation room. Make sure you have your goals clear, a good understanding of the situation, and all the data you need. Though it can be time-consuming, being well-prepared is one of the best things you can do to get a good outcome from your negotiation.
The outcome you need should always be your north star.
Keeping it in mind will help you stay focused and work toward that goal instead of getting distracted with smaller issues in the negotiation. Staying focused and delivering the result expected of you will prove your great skills as a negotiator.
Before entering a bargaining meeting, the skilled negotiator prepares for the meeting. Those who prepare usually outperform those who don’t.
Preparation includes determining goals, areas for trade and alternatives to the stated goals. In addition, negotiators study the history of the relationship between the two parties and past negotiations to find areas of agreement and common goals. Past precedents and outcomes can set the tone for current negotiations.
Contrary to the stereotype, negotiation isn’t about shooting from the hip and coming up with solutions pulled out of the air.
The best negotiators are deeply involved in the topics they discuss and do extensive research on the projects, markets, and requests. Preparation requires research beyond an individual meeting, and good negotiators and managers will have a big picture idea on which to base decisions.
You need to be clear in saying what you want. Take time to collect all facts and data relevant to negotiations including clear definitions of what acceptable outcomes look like.
Ask yourself crucial questions beforehand. Do I know all the issues the other parties are likely to raise? What concessions might I be able to offer? What data/arguments am I going to use to support my case? What are the weakest points of my case?
Strategy #3: Create a Bond
Negotiators with patience and the ability to persuade others without using manipulation can maintain a positive atmosphere during a difficult negotiation. The ability to engage emotionally, self-awareness and likability are all important traits in leadership and transfer neatly from the negotiating table to the corner office.
Effective negotiators have the interpersonal skills to maintain a good working relationship with those involved in the negotiation.
Although it’s not always feasible to engage in small talk at the start of a negotiation (particularly if you’re on a tight deadline), doing so can bring real benefits. You and your counterpart may be more collaborative and likely to reach an agreement if you spend even just a few minutes trying to get to know each other.
Whether you are at home with your family or securing a business deal, exhibiting emotional intelligence will allow you to take hold of any situation.
As a leader, it is intelligent to understand both your own emotions and those of the other person. Keep in mind, emotions influence thinking and can easily jeopardize a negotiation when they spin out of control. Great leaders find a balance between the ‘feelings’ and ‘thinking’ of the stakeholders in a negotiation, to achieve the desired outcome.
Hearing and listening are two different things. If you fail to actively listen, all your strategies and tactics will be ineffective.
Once you start discussing substance, resist the common urge to think about what you’re going to say next while your counterpart is talking. Instead, listen carefully to her arguments, then paraphrase what you believe she said to check your understanding. Acknowledge any difficult feelings, like frustration, behind the message. Not only are you likely to acquire valuable information, but the other party may mimic your exemplary listening skills.
Negotiators have the skills to listen actively to the other party during the debate.
Active listening involves the ability to read body language as well as verbal communication. It is important to listen to the other party to find areas for compromise during the meeting. Instead of spending the bulk of the time in negotiation expounding the virtues of his viewpoint, the skilled negotiator will spend more time listening to the other party.
Strategy #4: Keep Emotions in Check
Becoming a skilled negotiator requires you to become skilled at identifying your own emotions and the emotions of others, understanding how those emotions affect other’s thinking and using that knowledge to achieve better outcomes.
Negotiations spark emotions. Some people get explosive during the process if it doesn’t go their way.
Other people are negotiation averse, they would do anything to avoid it and may compromise. Know your own reactions, practice some deep breathing before and during the process. If you feel yourself get angry or overwhelmed, take a break or ask a question to refocus the meeting.
Emotions are easily read in tone of voice and physical mannerisms.
If you feel anxious or angry about the situation the other person will know. Attempting to bully or strong arm someone will never help solve a difficult situation over the long run. If necessary, take a break or encourage those experiencing the conflict to do so.
Negotiation requires removing yourself from the equation.
Not taking “no” personally is a great way you can improve your skills. Once you realize that the other party isn’t rejecting you as a person, but rather the proposals you and your company provide, the easier it will be for you to focus on improving your negotiation skills.
It is important that a negotiator has the ability to keep his emotions under control during the negotiation.
Negotiating on sensitive issues can be frustrating and allowing emotions to take control can worsen the situation during the meeting. This will more likely lead to negative results. In a negotiation, self-regulation means consciously controlling your emotions, resisting emotionally driven impulses and reactions, and frequently redirecting your attention to focus on how to achieve your goals.
Strategy #5: Cultivate Your BATNA
Before walking into a negotiation, you have to be familiar with your best alternative to a negotiated agreement, or BATNA. When negotiating, your only other option besides coming to an agreement is to walk away. If you develop a good alternative strategy for walking away from a deal, you’ll have a better bargaining chip since your counterpart probably isn’t as willing to drop the negotiation.
A BATNA is a vital part of negotiating skills. It is crucial to avoid accepting an outcome that is worse than what you may have done otherwise.
Your BATNA is what you can or might do if an agreement cannot be reached. What you can accept has to be better than your BATNA. Otherwise, why negotiate? Ask yourself what the other side’s BATNA may be. Why are they negotiating with you?
BATNAs are critical to negotiation because you cannot make a wise decision about whether to accept a negotiated agreement unless you know what your alternatives are.
This increases your negotiating power. If you know you have a good alternative, you do not need to concede as much, because you don’t care as much if you get a deal. You can also push the other side harder. If your options are slim or non existent, the other person can make increasing demands, and you’ll likely decide to accept them — because you don’t have a better option, no matter how unattractive the one on the table is becoming.
Your BATNA is very important because it defines what deals are worth considering and what deals aren’t.
Any offer that isn’t better for you than your BATNA is worse than “no deal” and should be refused. ZOPA stands for Zone of Possible Agreement. The people you’re negotiating with have a BATNA too. The ZOPA is the set of all deals that are at least as good for each party in a negotiation as their respective BATNAs.
Be aware of the anchoring bias. The first number mentioned in a negotiation, however arbitrary, exerts a powerful influence on the negotiation that follows.
You can avoid being the next victim of the anchoring bias by making the first offer (or offers) and trying to anchor talks in your preferred direction. If the other side does anchor first, keep your aspirations and BATNA at the forefront of your mind, pausing to revisit them as needed.
Strategy #6: Ask Relevant Questions
Too often, we associate negotiations with intense boardroom dramas where powerful characters land billion-dollar deals by pushing their weight around. Instead, the powerful characters in real-life negotiations aren’t the ones who refuse to budge, but rather those who are the most flexible.
The most powerful person is the person who is asking key questions designed to fully understand the other negotiator’s goals, fears and needs.
You can gain more in negotiation by asking lots of questions — ones that are likely to get helpful answers. Avoid asking “yes or no” questions and leading questions, such as “Don’t you think that’s a great idea?” Instead, craft neutral questions that encourage detailed responses, such as “Can you tell me about the challenges you’re facing this quarter?”
Asking questions is a great way of checking your understanding and pushing your counterpart for more information. Get in the habit of asking lots of relevant questions.
Finding good questions to ask about a customer’s needs is the only way you will be able to find out in a negotiation what exactly is important to them and what benefits they are truly looking for. Price is not always the most important thing and it is important to show the customer other benefits they are receiving.
Communication skills are necessary no matter what you’re doing, but they’re especially important when negotiating.
These skills range from being able to get your point across clearly and effectively to being able to read physical cues and understand how your partner is thinking. Being good at communicating is an important step to being a good negotiator.
Skilled negotiators must be able to communicate clearly and efficiently to the other party during the negotiation.
If the negotiator does not state his case clearly, it can lead to misunderstanding and an unfavorable result. During a bargaining meeting, an effective negotiator must have the skills and tact to clearly point out his desired outcome as well as his logical perception.
Strategy #7: Build Trust
Ethical standards and reliability in a skilled negotiator stimulate a trust for effective negotiation to take place. Both parties in a negotiation must trust that the other side will keep up with promises and agreements.
A negotiator must have the skills to implement his promises after bargaining ends.
Another way to improve the long-term durability of your contract is to place milestones and deadlines in your contract to ensure that commitments are being met. You might also agree, in writing, to meet at regular intervals throughout the life of the contract to check in and, if necessary, renegotiate.
The outcome of negotiation is affected by the commitments both parties made.
If either of the parties involved cannot follow through on their commitments, they are risking a loss of integrity. Once you lose the trust, it is almost impossible to get it back. This will result in negative outcomes of future negotiations and even a refusal to do business. As an effective negotiator, only make commitments that you can honor and follow through.
Great negotiators tend to operate in environments that breed transparency and trust.
While it may not be practical to divulge all your information, collaborative negotiations work best where there is zero tolerance of deceptive practices. Great negotiators try to eliminate suspicion by declaring their interests early, even before the other side requests it. Collaboration thrives when both contributors share information freely and provide a clearer picture of the challenges faced.
Trust does not develop in the abstract. Nor does it develop as a result of a singular grand gesture.
In fact, it is a process that requires persistence and consistency. In a transaction, there is no scope for vulnerability and hence there is the urge to fight it. However, forming relationships requires a certain degree of vulnerability. This is not to say that you should completely let down your guard and blindly exchange information. It simply means creating an environment of ease and confidence.
Negotiating skills are vital to being an effective leader as conflict is inevitable in the workplace. Leadership and negotiation go hand in hand. The process itself can be used in a variety of ways. Choosing an excellent strategy can be beneficial, and your success depends on how you prepare for negotiations.
Workplace conflicts cost companies time and money and can lead to excessive and harmful employee turnover.
Learning how to negotiate conflicts for yourself, your business, and between your employees can protect both your professional reputation and your business. Teaching employees to negotiate difficult situations themselves can strengthen your team.
As an effective negotiator, the positive outcome depends on your ability to think through all the essentials.
The ultimate goal is a win-win outcome by reaching a common ground between parties involved. Have in mind that negotiation is a must, as it’s one of the effective leadership skills. Realize the importance of negotiation and you will develop yourself as the next level leader in no time.
Changing the way you think about negotiating is the first step to improved performance and better results.
Recognizing the reasons why people act the way they do, and having the ability to communicate with a broad range of behavioral styles, offers the skilled negotiator the ability to reach satisfactory outcomes more consistently. Understanding the styles of the people with whom you’re negotiating and changing your approach accordingly can be the key to success.
When you are a good negotiator, your self-confidence is higher and you feel more positive toward yourself and others in everything else that you do.
Do you have your own negotiation process? What are the skills of a good negotiator for you? Which of these seven powerful negotiation strategies would make a difference to your negotiating? Share your experience in the comment section below!