To the average observer, negotiation may appear to be an activity limited to the corporate world, whether it’s conducted across a conference table or, as has been the case in more recent years, via videoconferencing. In reality, negotiation is part of how we communicate in and out of the workplace, and in either setting it can be improved through training and practice. By rethinking the negotiation process, it’s possible to achieve more equitable and beneficial results when attempting to reach an agreement.
Some people hold the view that negotiation is by nature an adversarial process – when one person wins, another loses; what benefits one company is detrimental to another. However, it can be a mistake to approach the negotiating table anticipating or even encouraging confrontation. Negotiation is not about strong-arming an opponent into submission. Keeping egos in check allows all parties to feel more comfortable voicing opinions and concerns.
The goal is for all parties to feel positive about the negotiation process, which will make it more likely that they can reach a fair outcome. Keep the conversation focused on long-term, mutual benefits rather than short-term gains. The art of negotiating includes the ability to focus on the group, rather than the individual.
Also, avoid bluffing. Be clear about what you want and you may find the other party more receptive. By the same token, be wary if you believe you are the target of a bluff. Often, a strident and resistant party is simply masking a lack of confidence in a proposed deal. By remaining calm and cognizant, you can more easily steer the conversation back toward productivity. Don’t become distracted by attempts to move the deal away from your goals.
Additionally, be aware of the potential paradox of choice. Some individuals might assume that the more options they present, the more likely it is that an agreement will be reached. In fact, the opposite may be true. At the negotiating table, as in life, having too many options may effectively stall decision making because of the fear of making the wrong choice. Limiting the number of proposals can boost the chances that one of them will be agreeable to all parties.
Successful negotiators also are mindful of how they present themselves and of how body language can bolster or undermine their verbal message. Are you presenting an open, welcoming appearance? Or, by keeping your arms folded, do you appear to be closed off and protective? Showing warmth and interest can go a long way toward smoothing the process.
Negotiations can be frustrating, of course, but it’s vital to avoid the temptation to view the other parties as irritating or exasperating.
Mastering the art of negotiation can bring many benefits, including the ability to work more effectively with individuals or groups of differing cultures, a better understanding of how interpersonal skills can underpin success, and the knowledge to create strategies for overcoming challenging situations.
Find out how you can enhance your negotiating experience with 100% online training from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.
Negotiation Essentials was outstanding, more than I could have hoped for with the content and ease of understanding of the video lectures on CD, the weekly simulations and reviews and reading that was not overwhelming heavy or voluminous. What I learned was significant. My negotiating capability is not just slightly improved but decidedly so and will greatly aid me in my business pursuits and personal relationships as well. I believe applying what I learned in this one class will bring an exponential return on my monetary and time investment. I recommend it highly to others considering the class. Very impressed by Notre Dame, Dr.'s Paulson and Holt and University Alliance. Thank you for making this program available. It was exactly what I was seeking.