Negotiation is a useful skill that can help leaders build positive relationships with both individual employees and teams. Whether dealing with discussions around remuneration, requests for a pay increase, or even closing a deal with a client, it is a useful skill that all managers should have in their toolbox.

Negotiating is not just about getting one’s way; it is about finding a mutually beneficial solution that considers the interests of everyone involved. Additionally, it can help build trust and foster work relationships that are happy and productive.

At the heart of good negotiation skills lie communication, active listening, problem solving, and a willing to compromise, and Managers who possess them can effectively work out mutually beneficial agreements for the betterment of the business.

Why are negotiation skills so important?

Conflict is sometimes unavoidable in the workplace, so it is key that leaders know how to deal with it. Negotiation skills can help to do so while maintaining strong, productive relationships with employees and finding a win-win solution while avoiding escalation. Negotiation skills can also help promote innovative outcomes that benefit a range of stakeholders, making those who possess it invaluable to the team.

What skills do good negotiators possess?

Communication – Clear, concise, and persuasive communication is key. Good negotiators get their point across in a way that is understandable and compelling, and use different communication styles, such as assertive or collaborative, and can adapt these to suit the situation and audience.

Emotional intelligence – Emotional intelligence refers to being able to effectively perceive, manage, and evaluate the emotions of others. In negotiations, it helps in maintaining composure, building rapport, and working through difficult conversations. It is key in building trust and understanding, and facilitates being able to recognise underlying emptions to address them.

Planning – Being prepared is essential when it comes to negotiations including research, setting clear goals, and anticipating push back. Good planning involves understanding the needs of all stakeholders and preparing a negotiation strategy accordingly. When well-prepared, negotiation conversations can remain are able to be steered toward a productive outcome.

Managing expectations – Effective negotiators can not only set realistic expectations, but also clearly communicate them to avoid any misunderstandings. It is about being honest about what can be delivered and ensuring all stakeholders understand this.

Active listening – Hearing what others say is part of active listening, another is understanding the perspective of the person who is speaking. Utilising techniques like summarising what has been said and asking clarifying questions will help encourage a more collaborative negotiation process. Not only this, but it will also let others know that they have ben heard, making it more likely to be able to meet in the middle when a solution is presented.

Good negotiation skills can be developed over time and involves using different interpersonal skills, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence. It is a process that requires self-awareness, practice, and planned improvement, but when achieved can help to create more positive outcomes at work.

Learning effective negotiation skills is an ongoing process, centred around clear communication, emotional intelligence, and thorough planning. By reflecting on negotiations and continuously working on skills, leaders can enjoy better outcomes and stronger relationships in the workplace.

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