How to be a Master Negotiator: The Art and Science of Negotiation

You might think of negotiation as a skill that is required by certain professions – Sales professionals, brokers, business entrepreneurs or perhaps those in diplomatic positions. Well, the truth is that it is a skill each one of us needs and we use it consciously and unconsciously; almost every waking hourof our life.

The art of negotiation is simply a matter of dealing with a variety of interests or needs and finding a way to get the best possible deal for each person involved in a situation. The least of these needs is to be heard and accepted and this is the very basis of all negotiation efforts. Infact it is the basis of all interactions among people.

If you understand the importance of being a good negotiator, you can enhance your negotiation power by following the 5 most important aspects of negotiation.

  1. Listening: The foremost responsibility of a good negotiator is to show a genuine ability and commitment to arrive at a mutual understanding. When you convince the other party that you truly want to meet them halfway, you are more likely to get them to cooperate. The foremost thing to arrive at this understanding requires active listening. By listening actively, you can display your inclination to cooperate and fully extend your collaborative spirit in finding a mutually satisfying solution.
  2. Mirroring: While your past experiences and the attitudes you have faced may lead you to believe that negotiation is a competitive and counteractive exercise, this is entirely unfounded. Negotiation is a process of discovering the maximum mutual ground you can cover with the other party. When you aim to uncover information to identify what your counterpart is after and make them comfortable to share their needs and desires you are one step closer to reaching a better understanding of the stakes. A great technique proved in a study on waiters by Richard wiseman suggests Mirroring as the best technique to achieve this. Mirroring or repeating the last three words or the most critical one to three words of what someone has said provides a semblance of similarity and bonding. Follow this with a silence of 4 to 5 seconds and let your counterpart elaborate and share more information of what they have just said. Repeat this every so often.
  3. Empathy: When we develop a clear understanding of the mindset and motivations of the other person in the present moment, we gain considerable influence on the negotiation proceedings in the long run. We can do this by closely observing a person’s face, expressions, physical gestures and voice tone to get what is known as neural resonance. This helps you to gain an insight into not just their current state of mind but also their long-term motivations thus helping you to have and edge in the negotiation process. You may practice this by observing people and visualising yourself in their position to truly empathise with their situation.
  4. Labelling: The next powerful step towards establishing a good negotiation rapport is to be able to diffuse hostile confrontations should they occur during the course of the negotiation. This can be done by labelling. While interacting with a counterpart whose emotions or intentions you are trying to understand better, simply spot an emotion you can clearly see and ask or state it as is starting with “it appears as though” or “it seems/sounds/looks like” and follow this by a short silence. By making this suggestion you open the possibility for the person to either confirm or deny your statement. As a result the other person is likely to give a more detailed answer than simply saying yes or no, helping you gather more information about the person’s interests and motivations in the proceedings.
  5. Seek the “NO”: When you push your counterpart to agree or to say “yes” you are likely to put them in a corner and cause them to hold their card closer to their chest. Instead a better way to deal with the situation is to seek for your counterpart to say “No”. This is not very different from seeking the “Yes”; it is simply arriving at the yes by starting with the elimination of the possibilities that are not applicable or highly unlikely. When the process of elimination begins, that is when the real negotiation begins because both parties finally begin to arrive at a more plausible and honest set of expectations which bring them closer and closer to the solution. Moreover, people have a need to say no. So, getting them to say it early is favourable so that once the need has been fulfilled you can begin to proceed to the possibility of arriving at a “Yes” or an agreement.

A master negotiator is not just someone who employs the above steps to gain an edge. The true mark of the master negotiator is to proceed so that all those involved leave feeling that they have got the best end of the negotiation deal.
When you use these techniques, you don’t simply make sure you get the better end of the deal. You are in fact empowered to provide the best solution for all those involved and to make the best of any situation no matter where you may be.
So, get cracking and begin practicing these techniques today. When negotiation a better deal is possible with a little effort, why should you not be taking advantage of that?

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