Developing Soft Skills for Internal and External Negotiation Sessions
Negotiation is a skill that is highly important in any business environment. Individual negotiation skills play an important role in determining the general outcome of any business deal with external or internal stakeholders. It is therefore important for any new director in the organization to have well-polished negotiation skills to ensure the organization is winning and moving in the right direction. We cannot afford to lose important deals at the negotiation table as the company’s success depends on them. For this reason, I am writing this memo to advise you on some of the skills you may need to work on, to be a good negotiator.
To develop soft skills in negotiation, the negotiator needs to know how to use the right emotions to obtain the desired results in a negotiation. According to Brooks (2015), negotiations can be tense with emotions, where feelings are used to influence deal-making. For instance, anxiety is likely to result in poor results. Once the other party realizes that you are tense they are likely to use intimidation to corner you into accepting their offer or argument, even when it is not favorable to you. Therefore, one ought to avoid anxiety at a negotiation table as much as possible. This can be done by rehearsing and practicing sometimes with a false audience, or you can use a friend to aid in rehearsing, as they pretend to be the other party in the negotiation. If one is unable to overcome anxiety before the negotiation time, it would be better to involve an expert at the negotiation table rather than doing it when nervous. You can also consider using anger to intimidate your parties and pushing them to be able to strike a better deal.
However, according to Brooks (2015), anger is a double-edged sword, which can destroy long-term relations among parties. This means you need to be careful about where to use it to ensure you do not end up destroying goodwill and trust that could have benefited the organization more in the future, just to win a small deal. In a situation where anger is likely to create an impasse or destroy valuable long-term relationships, it would be better to defuse or avoid anger by taking a break to come down, or maybe try showing different emotions that bring out a different image such as sadness and a wish to compromise.
It is also important to avoid disappointment or excitement in the early stages of bargains. Before accepting defeat and disappointment, it is important to ask several questions to ensure that you have explored all possible options. When you foresee a disappointment, avoid closing the deal so early. Take your time to rethink the situation, as you talk with the other part and consider all other possibilities. This allows you to find a way to sweeten the deal as you continue talking, to avoid the total loss or unbearable results. Also, it is important to avoid excitement in the early stages of negotiation. Being excited early in the deal negotiation can make a person rash in making a decision, exposing your final terms too early, which can alienate your partners. The bottom line is that you must be able to control your emotions during negotiation to avoid sending wrong messages. Emotions control will also help ensure they are used right; at the right time and in the right way to increase your chances of winning, without compromising valuable relations (Brooks, 2015).
Other than emotional control, to win a negotiation, you also need to know how to read non-verbal communication among other involved parties at a negotiation table. This includes knowing how to read facial expressions, physical gestures, vocal qualities, eye movements, or paraverbal factors, personal space, and posture that communicate a different message from what is said verbally. According to Wheeler and Dana (2009), negotiators who manage to observe nonverbal cues contain a distinct advantage in handling other people. This is because they are more probable to know when a yes demonstrates an actual commitment to an agreement and when it is spoken with reservation. They can also differentiate actual promises and threats from those that are just bluster. They can also identify unspoken anger and confusion, and therefore defuse complex situations, and develop trust. Being able to read more than is said will highly work to your advantage and make negotiation easier on your side, as you will always manage to address the actual situation, rather than the faked one.
While going to the negotiation table, it is also highly important to think more of a win-win situation and focus on it rather than a win-lose or lose-lose situation. Considering a win-win situation does not mean that you should be nice or that you should give in too soon. You need to learn your self-worth and learn to base it on competition and comparisons. You also need to have important character traits that include maturity, integrity, and an abundance mentality. Win-wins involve more cooperation than competition. It is a heart and mind-frame that constantly focuses on mutual benefits in a negotiation. It is good to focus on mutually satisfying and beneficial solutions or agreements, especially where there are long-term relationships or partnerships to preserve. To manage this, one has to be confident and empathic. You will need to be brave, sensitive, and considerate to employ a win-win situation, as it requires some compromises on your side. A balance between consideration and courage will be needed as a win-win situation demonstrate a high sense of maturity in negotiation (Convey, 2022). If you manage to develop these skills, then it will be very easy for you to engage in both internal and external negotiations on behalf of the organizations and ensure you always strike good deals.