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The Negotiation Skills of Workplace Professionals

The Negotiation Skills of Workplace Professionals
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Often in people's minds, negotiation is associated with conflict — the word that tends to make people feel nervous or unhappy. In truth, negotiation doesn't necessarily imply convincing the person you are speaking to. Highly skilled negotiation is the key to neutralizing conflict, resolving problems and ensuring mutual gains.

Negotiation is an unavoidable part of work and everyday life. Throughout their work, headhunters constantly make great use of negotiation skills — for example, when discussing projects, contracts and salaries; as well as when co-ordinating interviews. We have put together a list of of practical skills that headhunters use during their daily negotiations, and insights they have into the art of negotiating to help you:

1. Control your emotions

Whoever gets angry first, loses half of the negotiation. Often, the party who gets angry during a negotiation is the party that cares the most about the results of the negotiation and may state their bottom line in an indignant or emotional manner. It's therefore extremely important to control your emotions during a negotiation, while making sure not to put your interlocutor in a negative mood. By maintaining your composure, you can also earn the respect and trust of your interlocutor.

2. Ask, listen and take notes

Negotiating is not about competing to see who is the better talker, but rather about who is the best at asking, listening and taking notes. By posing a series of pertinent questions, getting to the bottom of the matter and seizing the paradoxes in your interlocutor's arguments, you can discover how they truly feel and what their bottom line is. Then, after summarizing the main points of the opposing person’s arguments in note form, you can address each of those points in the order of their importance. Sometimes, if you resolve the main conflict, resolving the other problems becomes a piece of cake.

3. Adapt your technique to the personality of your interlocutor

There is a diverse range of negotiation techniques that you must choose from based on the personality of your interlocutor. Analyzing and developing an understanding of your interlocutor's personality prior to conducting negotiations will have an extremely positive influence on the outcome of the negotiations. If you are dealing with an obstinate interlocutor, you need to communicate hard facts backed by data and evidence. You also need to let them know that you have a Plan B — they aren't essential to your plan. Should you encounter an irresolute and indecisive partner, you must let them know that you both share the same fundamental interests. You should also make an effort to appeal to their emotions.

4. Understand the importance of mutual compromise

It is quite rare for a party to feel as though they are the absolute winner of a negotiation. Generally, either one party will compromise slightly more than the other, or both parties will compromise to an equal degree. During negotiations, propose the principle of mutual comprise. By allowing your interlocutor to make an initial proposal and then using that proposal as the basis for a second proposal, you can convince your interlocutor that you're getting the harder end of the bargain.

There are hundreds of books on the market that specifically discuss the art of negotiation. Two books that have recently caused a sensation are Getting More by Stuart Diamond, and The Secrets of Power Negotiating by Roger Dawson. If interested, take a read of these books and let theory help you put negotiating techniques into practice.