You are currently viewing The Art of Negotiating
Brent Knight, CSP; President of ISS, Inc.

Often, we must negotiate our way to a resolution. It may be a raise that we seek, a business deal that we are trying to close, a point that we are trying to make, or a child we are trying to convince. Either way, it is good to understand the art of negotiation to get what you want out of life.

Many things in life require that we make a case or an argument. We often refer to this as a negotiation. A negotiation usually is conducted to achieve a goal or to get something that we want.

The first thing that I would like to mention is that emotion is often our worst enemy in a negotiation; not always, but most of the time. Often, to win in a negotiation, we must be willing to walk away, and if we are highly emotionally involved in the outcome, we are at a disadvantage.

Remember that the best negotiators are often also the best communicators. Listening skills are as important, if not more so, than the ability to convince the other party of your argument.

Per an article in Forbes magazine, here are some keys to being a strong negotiator:
1. Learn to be an active listener.
2. Align stakeholder success with your own.
3. Pace the negotiation stage.
4. Practice having tough conversations.
5. Apply the win-win paradigm.
6. Deliver more beyond short-term needs.
7. Start from a place of empathy.
8. Develop a flexible mindset.
9. Provide clear communication.
10. Ask questions to produce more details.
11. Be optimistic but prepared to walk away.
12. Offer more than one option.
13. Utilize the parking lot.
14. Frame your pitch early.
15. Figure out what matters most.

Many seem to think that speaking loudly, posturing with strong body language, being aggressive in our delivery, and being firm are the keys to negotiating. As you see in the list above, nothing could be further from the truth. The best negotiators are often quiet, listen most of the time, ask questions, and keep an open mind. Don’t believe me; watch great movies like True Grit with Jeff Bridges, the Negotiator with Samuel L. Jackson, or Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks. Sure, these are movies, and there is drama to hype them up, hence emotion, but all provide great examples of negotiating in tough circumstances.

I think that the key to becoming a good negotiator is to practice. Become a great communicator, practice active listening skills, ask leading questions that direct the other party in your direction or favor, challenge ideas for facts, and practice empathy. Most of all, learn to walk away. You will never win them all.