Learning to negotiate is like any other skill, you have to develop it.  We use our negotiation skills every day in some manner.  Negotiating may be as simple as managing our schedule or setting up a meeting.  Negotiations may involve dealing with customer contracts, addressing service issues, or investing in client relationships.  The negotiations we tend to remember are the ones that are contentious and the ones that represent big wins for us.

As Diane Egbers of Leadership Excelleration, Inc. (LEI), would put it, we need a paradigm shift on negotiations. Diane led a discussion on Negotiation Strategies for the Barnes Dennig Wholesale Distribution Roundtable event in February.  She maintained that, as business leaders, our best outcome is when we negotiate for a win-win resolution. This relationship-based approach to sales and marketing is highly effective.

Diane’s proposition is that negotiation is composed of a defined set of skills for relatability, charisma, and persuasion.  An individual must develop all of the subsets of skills to be effective at negotiating.  Relatability is about developing yourself and your attitudes toward others.  Charisma deals with being in the moment and takes relatability to the next level of dealing with others.  Relatability and charisma are critical in developing rapport and maintaining relationships.  Both of which are highly valued in negotiations.  The final piece of the puzzle is persuasion.  When you influence with charisma, you are viewed as persuasive.  In order to effectively persuade in negotiations, four elements must be addressed.

Key Persuasion Elements

The elements of persuasion are the following:

  1. Build credibility.
  2. Understand your audience including stakeholders and decision makers.
  3. Create a business case using data and experience, and
  4. Communicate effectively.

Proper preparation and planning are required to effectively persuade.

All of these skills are utilized when we negotiate for a win-win outcome.  We must first create a connection. We then use our listening and questioning skills to deepen our understanding.  We must first seek to understand before we can share options and seek solutions.  We also need to define the ideal results and bottom line from both parties’ perspectives.  We finally seek closure and confirm outcomes.  We then maintain the relationship until we repeat the iterative process.

Practice your negotiation strategies daily.  Identify the skills that you currently possess and your knowledge and skill gaps.  Identify leaders that possess the skills you lack to help you develop them.  Learning happens one negotiation at a time.