Negotiation: learning to meet people half way

The word "negotiation" invariably makes us think of salary negotiations and employee demands in labour relations. Nothing could be further from the truth.

We negotiate on an ongoing and daily basis – probably several times each day. We do it at home and in the office and in general discussions we hold every day. The question of course is how well do we negotiate? Do we recognise situations where negotiation is necessary and appropriate?

Negotiation is simply the act of reaching agreement as to how we can move forward. It's the process of communicating back and forth, and finally having all parties agree to a solution. This in effect necessitates a discussion.

When we are involved in negotiations we need to realise it is not a game and it is not a “must win situation” – negotiation leads to mutual understanding, acceptance and of course maintaining respect for each other. Hard negotiation tactics, often leave one party satisfied and one party unhappy due to being virtually forced to accept.

A common approach to negotiation is one of accommodation. This happens when one person gives in to the other person purely to accommodate a conclusion to the negotiations and to maintain good relations. The result here of course is that an amicable solution has not been reached and someone had to lose – someone decided to give in just for the sake of peace and harmony.

Ideally in any negotiation we need to aim at a mutually satisfying conclusion, we want to reach an agreement that is acceptable to all. Such negotiations have been described as collaborative or integrated. Those involved do not argue and fight, they do not make demands, they do not threaten each other and they certainly do not threaten to bring a country to a standstill, to force a company to close down or to bring a company to its knees.

In a collaborative form of negotiation all parties work together to reach consensus and find common solutions bearing in mind the needs of all parties. In this instance, if conducted in good faith and understanding of the needs of others, there is a win-win solution reached. Everyone is happy and everyone understands the view point and need of the other.

A good negotiator strives to understand the needs of the other party while at the same time trying to meet the needs of that party.

This however does not imply he loses sight of his own goals and objectives. The good negotiator finds terms of agreement that everyone can live with. So learning to improve your negotiation skills has many benefits in life and in business discussions. Most of all becoming a good negotiator will assist you in every day communication, will increase your ability to be persuasive and will confirm a high level of leadership skills.

By increasing your skills in negotiations you will become more confident, will foster good relations with others, you will know when to back off in conflict situations and you will improve personal relations and demonstrate leadership ability.

Negotiation is a fact of life and is part of everyone’s personal and professional lives.

Learn to negotiate – learn to communicate

By Des Squire

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