How to improve your negotiation skills for business success

Negotiation isn’t for only trained Intelligence Officers mandated to free a handful of hostages from the grips of some Oriental terrorist group. As well it isn’t restricted to your nation’s diplomats, who run around to sign arms or trade deals.

We are all always negotiating – to get a raise at work, to make our spouses as supportive as can be, to get the supplier to  give in to our requests for excessive rebates, to court public attention, and to get ‘junior’ to dress on time each morning for school!

But not all negotiation is successful. It can tilt towards a win-lose, win-win, lose-win outcomes. You may get manipulated, break a truce or gain advantage. This is why it is necessary to understand what it takes to negotiate successfully.

There are three factors that determine your outcome in any negotiation:

  1. Your Level of Authority – When the other persons perceive your relative level of authority is higher, they will be willing to make a concession. This is why you need to establish your status in any negotiation from the start. Your authority can vary from what you are good at (skills, profession etc), who you know, your position and what you possess. If you are rated higher than those you are negotiating with, you have succeeded in establishing a vertical relationship that may ensure superior bargaining (a sort of right) power that will ultimately work in your favour.
  2. How Much Time & Options You Have – Never negotiate under pressure. If those you are negotiating with know you are in dire or urgent need of what you are currently bargaining for, they will take advantage of you. If you are buying a product in a hurry they will charge you more; if you are into selling, and your customers know they have ample time to purchase, they will delay. Likewise, if your choices are narrow while are negotiating, the other party will frustrate you to move, price and work at their own pace.
  3. What You Know About The Other Parties – Spying work is to gain a superior advantage over an adversary. In fact, that is the reason why the submarine was built and satellites are sent into space. It is also the reason marketing departments of every company work with as much consumer data as they can lay their hands upon. When you have knowledge of your adversaries’ strength and weaknesses; their histories, their styles, and their pattern of response, you gain an upper hand. Why?  Tactically, you have a first-hand knowledge of their behavioral pattern under different circumstances . In other words, it enables you to prepare for likely scenarios with the most fitting responses and attacks. In sum, do not go into any negotiation without carrying out a research about who you are going to be negotiating with.For instance, if you are going for an interview, do a little bit of research about the company and the backgrounds of those who have been recruited before to find out underlying patterns and requirements. If you are into manufacturing, get to know the pain-points that competing manufacturers have not yet addressed in the market and address them in making your new products. Seek to understand the AIO (activities, interest and opinion) of your target markets and make products (songs, design, packaging, label, naming, branding, logo, and communication materials) in line with that.

Apart from business, the above insights also apply to relationships your spouses, your children, and your colleagues at work. Knowing who you are, and understanding who others are, will help you take a proactive stand to protect yourself and launch attack against manipulative relations when necessary.

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