In the modern world we negotiate daily in many aspects of our lives. There are many people with great negotiation talent and skills, while some others haven’t developed that part yet. Fortunately, negotiation skills can be cultivated through practice and developed through experience. 

#skills #negotiation #practice #experience #learning 

By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos

Pretty often we tend to believe that negotiations either lead to conflicts or are the main cause of them. But actually, our ability to negotiate and persuade someone is an extremely useful tool for developing our careers and achieving our goals.

As a tool, this concept can be used in every sector of ​​our professional life: from salary negotiations and discussions about promotion or pay rise to claiming better results from a team, for specific projects or for the new order of things in the way we work (e.g. remote work).

The key to negotiation is to reach balance in the final result. We have to give the other person an understanding of how our proposal will benefit both sides. Negotiation is not a monologue but a dialogue. The person on the other side of the table should be in a position to understand the reasons to agree with us, to compromise or to accept our suggestions, knowing clearly their potential benefits.

Every negotiation requires logical and correct arguments, preparation and patience, because the process may not be completed in a single discussion, but it may take time before a final decision is made.

What are the core negotiation skills? 

1. Emotional Intelligence

Negotiation requires self-knowledge, empathy and the ability to manage our emotions but also to recognise the feelings of others. If our interlocutor seems more tired or anxious than usual, this is a sign that it may not be the best time to mention a request we were planning to discuss with him/her. So in this case, it's best to give it some time. 

2. Concise communication

Often, especially when we are nervous or unprepared, we make the mistake of sharing too much information during negotiations, which may be detrimental. Whenever we try to claim something, especially in our work environment, we must take into account the limited time of the people with whom we negotiate. Any such conversation must contain the absolutely necessary information so that it can be easily understood. 


3. Active listening

During a negotiation we really have to pay attention to details. Sometimes, when we are nervous or extremely focused on what we want to say, we may not fully listen to what our interlocutor is saying. But it’s very important to keep our ears open so that we can maneuver in the discussion and answer any critical question or query.

4. Problem solving

When we want to tackle a problem successfully, we have to look at the issue from many different angles (not just our own), think about and evaluate possible approaches that will bring us closer to a solution which will provide positive results for all the sides involved. 

5. Ability to read body language 

During a negotiation it’s important to pay attention to changes in the body language of others, because in that way we will gain valuable information about what they are thinking or feeling. A handshake or a frowning face may be the sign we need to use into the conversation and better convince our interlocutor. Of course, our own body language is also crucial. A correct posture and a calm face image are part of the persuasion that will help us in every conversation.

How can we improve our negotiation skills?

We become an advocate for ourselves

Many everyday moments can potentially serve as a field for practicing our negotiation skills. Negotiating a price for a product, claiming a better room in a hotel or a better seat on a flight and even discussing one-night plans with friends can all serve as opportunities to stand on our own two feet and demand a better result for ourselves. This process will make us feel more ready when the time comes for a serious professional negotiation.

Collaboration with a coach or mentor

In recent years, opportunities for collaboration with professional coaches or mentors from different professional fields have increased significantly. It is worthwhile to take advantage of the support and guidance that such professionals can offer through advice and training, in order to develop our skills. There is also the possibility of working with a coach who specialises in executive coaching. In that way we can get even more targeted training and feedback regarding the matter of negotiation.

Facts and feelings

It’s extremely important in our conversations and, inevitably, in our negotiations, to be able to maintain a healthy balance between the data we list and the expression of our feelings. Just as it’s essential to have studied and collected the indisputable data that will support our arguments, it’s equally important to be able to express our feelings with respect, clear boundaries and clarity.

The development of skills that help us in this process will be beneficial for us and our career, but also for each of our partners. Finally, and even more significantly, we must remember that negotiation is not an extremely difficult process as we may imagine. We just remain calm and focused to achieve our goal.