7 skills every successful negotiator must possess

7 skills every successful negotiator must possess

Whether you’re a business owner who regularly participates in negotiations or networking events with partners and suppliers, or an employee who wants to successfully discuss the possibility of getting a pay rise, possessing a specific rhetoric skill set is a necessity.

Developing both speaking and listening skills will allow you to run negotiations with a relaxed attitude while being adequately prepared. Understanding your intangible assets will also make you feel more confident during the negotiation process. However, these are just a few of the skills required for success.

Below, you will find a list of the essential skills every successful negotiator must possess. They range from active listening and decision-making to expectation management and more. Continue reading the article to learn more about becoming a confident, excellent negotiator.

1. Planning

Planning is essential during negotiations as it allows you to avoid any unnecessary surprises and helps you adapt quickly.

It also provides a sense of control over the situation which, in turn, helps you feel more confident when negotiating. An essential step in planning is to know exactly what’s expected of you and when it should be completed.

Preparing for negotiations can be as simple as creating an agenda including the most important topics to discuss. However, it can go beyond that and include tasks like looking for simultaneous interpretation equipment rental or hiring a translator in case you’re negotiating with international partners, to prevent misunderstandings.

Additionally, you should come up with a detailed strategy that identifies possible roadblocks and provides solutions for resolving them. A single meeting could not be enough, and you might have to schedule conference at a later time.

Make sure your negotiation plans are realistic, achievable, and well thought out so that everything goes as smoothly as possible. If not, accept the unexpected change and adapt accordingly.

You can apply your planning skills by using these tips:

  • Come up with a detailed plan and a timeline for completion
  • Use the plan to take control of the situation
  • Identify potential roadblocks and come up with solutions for them
  • Adapt your plans accordingly if needed.

2. Active listening

Active listening is a skill that allows you to build a relationship with the other party. It’s all about being attentive and understanding what the other person is saying rather than just waiting for your turn to speak.

These skills are essential, especially when the parties involved in the negotiation differ in their perspective, background, and culture.

The best way to employ active listening is to:

  • Maintain eye contact while listening
  • Use open body language to make yourself seem more approachable
  • Paraphrase what the other person has said to let them know that you have been paying attention
  • Make sure to ask for clarification if you need it
  • Ask for something to be repeated if you missed something or don’t understand.

3. Problem solving

Problem solving is not just about coming up with solutions but also about defining the problem itself.

In some cases, the problem you’re trying to solve might not be clear enough, and you will have to ask clarifying questions before coming up with viable solutions.

The following tips will help you turn problems into opportunities:

  • Clarify and summarise the issue at hand
  • Ask questions that will lead to potential solutions
  • Define the problem by identifying its cause and possible consequences
  • Prioritise the issues based on their severity and impact
  • Brainstorm several solutions and eliminate those that are unlikely to be implemented
  • Choose the best alternative and implement it as soon as possible.
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4. Adaptability

Adaptability is an instrumental skill because it allows you to adjust your behaviour depending on the situation.

People who have this skill are aware that they may not always be right and are capable of changing their attitudes when needed.

If you’re trying to negotiate a deal, you will probably face a few obstacles along the way. When this happens, you must be able to react appropriately.

Adaptive skills are applicable in many situations, from personal relationships to work-related scenarios. You can develop them by adapting your own behaviour, acknowledging your mistakes, refusing to become defensive regardless of how others act or behave, and making small changes in routine activities.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Accept criticism graciously, even if it is indirect or harsh
  • Allow room for others to make mistakes and don’t point out their flaws publicly
  • Don’t take things personally, even if they are meant as such
  • If needed, be flexible regarding your time, deadlines, etc.
  • Change your attitude accordingly when you feel uncomfortable or upset with a certain situation.

5. Expectation management

The skill of expectation management is essential during negotiations as it helps you avoid being too disappointed when the final result does not meet your standards.

The key to success is to be realistic without being too optimistic.

As a negotiator, you will have to make sure that everyone involved understands what they can expect from it.

If you’re looking for an effective way to improve expectation management, try these tips:

  • Be open and honest with yourself and with others
  • Don’t promise anything that you cannot deliver on
  • Make sure that you clearly outline your expectations and make them known to others
  • Make sure that they understand what they can expect from you.

6. Persuasion

As a negotiator, you must be able to persuade others to see things from your perspective. During negotiations, these skills can be used when you need to convince someone to accept your point of view, make a purchase, or sign a contract.

These tips will help you achieve successful persuasion:

  • Be clear on what it is that you want to achieve
  • Adjust your communication style to the person or people in question
  • Come up with reasons that support your point of view
  • Be convincing without sounding pushy or overbearing
  • Maintain good eye contact during negotiations.

7. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence skills are essential when negotiating because they allow you to manage your own emotions and those of the other person involved in the process.

These skills allow you to stay calm and collected throughout negotiations, even if facing challenging situations. They also ensure that you don’t make sudden decisions that could negatively impact any future negotiations.

You can develop emotional intelligence skills by following these tips:

  • Control your emotions efficiently
  • Stay calm and centred even when the other person is aggressive or unreasonable
  • Don’t allow your emotions to get in the way of rational decision-making
  • Don’t lose your temper even if you feel the need to be angry or defensive
  • Make sure that you positively express your emotions
  • Be kind and courteous to others, especially when frustrated or upset.

To sum up

Adaptability, problem-solving, planning, expectation management, persuasion, and emotional intelligence skills are all essential during negotiations because they will help you feel more confident and relaxed even when facing challenging situations.

The key to success is self-awareness and recognising your strengths and weaknesses. If you know what you’re capable of, you will set realistic expectations for yourself and others.

In addition, if you have developed these skills, you will be more likely to achieve your goals and objectives while avoiding any unpleasant surprises along the way!