Negotiation Skills

22-08-11 Alison Parker 3 comments

Negotiation is a dynamic, complex skill and one that is difficult to master. During a  successful negotiation both parties whilst inherently in conflict with each other must reach a mutually beneficial agreement and  be broadly satisfied with the outcome (Win-Win).  Both sides should feel that a fair conclusion was reached, the agreement will be delivered as negotiated and importantly want to work with each other again. The adversarial element must be tempered if you are to reach a reasonable, successful outcome and a number of variables may have been traded. The variables (must haves, ideals, loss leaders) are at the heart of the negotiation and their importance to each party will be on a sliding scale, it is up to you to determine their priority through sound groundwork and optimize the trading. Be aware that minimizing a trade may not work in the Middle East. Indeed the first step,’ preparation ‘should have guided you towards any cultural context of discussions. If you are negotiating in an international setting your cultural intelligence, knowledge and cross-cultural skills will need to be developed.  There are several stages in negotiation which need to be followed in order for it to be successful, it is a process.

Negotiation ProcessPlanning for negotiation will pave the way for smoother communication, you will be able to predict most if not all outcomes and  you will have a good knowledge of all parties’ needs  .Negotiation cannot be rushed , you need to first establish a rapport and be able to effectively  and clearly communicate without being too jargonistic. You need to build trust with shared values, views, attitudes, experiences, and interests.

Your communication should have the right balance of empathy and yet be able to project your own ideas. Your persuasive communication skills should focus on listening more than questioning, with no perception of their position you cannot be persuasive. Make sure it is focused on helping them reach a decision; they need to explore your ideas and come to a net benefit for them. The persuasion process should mimic the stages they go through in their decision making process e.g. in exploring their concerns you should be ready to handle objections. Ultimately you need to have a commitment to act but this cannot be achieved without first exploring the stages involved in decision making. Only once agreement is reached can you move onto the final negotiation. There are many useful tactics to consider during negotiation but ultimately you should concentrate on building agreement, listening to and interpreting their language and maintain a open professional outlook that acceptably drives the negotiation to a win- win conclusion. Concessions should not be given up without extolling their benefits. Remember cost may not be the key variable you think it is after you have successfully established the true value /potential of your business partnership and ability of your product to meet their needs.


  • Bill Levell

    Concessions should NEVER be given – always traded. Everything has a value so never give anything away, even though it may have little value for you. Trade what is inexpensive for and yet valuable to the other party.

    22-08-11 Reply
  • Alison

    Absolutely agree Bill,and hopefully during the planning or listening stage you have a sense of what is important to the client and what will add value to your proposition. My question is how during the heat of agreement does one manage to take a step back and assess rather than commit to a trade? Are there ways in which you can pull back comfortably?

    22-08-11 Reply
  • Bill Levell

    It is important to recognise that you cannot negotiate unless there is, in large part, agreement between the parties. However, Don’t negotiate – unless you have explored the reasons for the impasse and attempted to address these. See

    To negotiate or not will become clear when both parties recognise that their differences are not so wide that an agreement can never be reached. At that point one party should “signal” that revising the proposal in some way is a possibility. Once this signal is recognised and accepted the the parties can discuss possible areas of common ground.

    22-08-11 Reply

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