Being able to negotiate successfully is an essential skill for your work career……

The art of negotiation is an essential skill that takes years to hone and yet many people ignore its role in all aspects of your life; at the workplace and at home.

I have been in employment since 1987, as an employee and as an employer. My 2 careers in Estate Agency and Retail/Finance Lending are both heavily reliant on being able to negotiate successfully. It has taken years for me to learn the subtleties involved in negotiating deals and how to be able to “close” a deal as a result of successful discussion with your client. It’s all about both parties feeling that they are getting an acceptable conclusion; neither party feel like they are “losing”.

So; how do we perform this skill to our best advantage?

KNOW YOUR OWN PARAMETERS

You need to know what you or your client are willing to “barter on” before you enter into dialogue with the other side. You also need to know what is non-negotiable to you; what must be in the terms of any proposed deal. You will use your own judgement how and when you let the other side know the areas where you’re open to discussion. Your experience will guide you in this stage.

LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMER/CLIENT/PARTNER

It still amazes me how poor we can be at listening to the other party in an ongoing dialogue over a business deal. When I say listen, I mean really listen. Focus on the meeting or call before you start. Clear your mind and really zone in on this one specific conversation coming up. When  the customer or client is talking don’t interrupt them, don’t talk over them; let them talk — and listen! Be laser focused on what they are saying and take notes. Also be aware of what they aren’t saying in relation to the proposal; this is as important as what they do say.

BE OPEN AND BE WILLING

You have to have good will in your discussions. You have to acknowledge the other sides points of view and respect those points of view. Be mannerly, be respectful but always keep the focus on the deal. It’s relatively straightforward to confirm what you both agree on and are happy to “sign off”. Get this done early on so everybody can focus on the “nitty gritty” of the negotiations. There’s no point in everyone feeling good about themselves because the “easy stuff” has been agreed to. Move on to the issues still at hand.

BE PREPARED AND WILLING TO ACTUALLY “TRADE” TO GET THE DEAL DONE

Life in business, at home and all other aspects is really all about “trading”. It is rare to get everything you want in any aspect of work or home life. We have to accept that we are all going to “give and take” to get most of what we want. So, don’t be pig headed, stubborn or unrealistic; be honest with yourself and keep the bigger picture in your mind; what you want. You will have to “give” on something, so will the other side, that’s life. Decide what you’re willing to “trade” and ascertain what the other party are willing to “trade”. This part of the deal can be based on emotion as much as finance. If both parties recognise that they are both giving up on part of their initial demand, you will normally get a deal. If one party just will not budge on any of their demands, then the deal may not happen.

UNDERSTAND AND ACCEPT THAT SOMETIMES A DEAL JUST WON’T HAPPEN

Sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to, that’s life. As long as you have tried your best, you have shown willing and an understanding of the issue, but still there is not a way forward, there’s no more you can do. Be honest and state that you feel you have done as much as you can. You have offered various options and proposals to the situation but still you can’t get agreement, then gracefully and politely say that there is nothing more you can do. Walk away. Don’t be too despondent or down beat, it happens. Life is a funny old thing; it could well be resurrected at a later date.