Negotiation skills are key to modern life, whether you want to haggle a few pennies off that used-car you’ve been eyeing up or increase your wages at work. We could all do with boosting our negotiation skills, but what’s the secret? Don’t fancy paying for an expensive course, then read on for a few top tips to improve your negotiation tactics.

1. Preparation

Like anything else, being prepared helps. Running through what you think the conversation may go like and visualizing scenarios can really help to prepare a solid negotiation strategy.

Diligent research into the subject of the negotiation and into your opposite number can really help when it gets down to the nitty gritty. By preparing thoroughly for your next business negotiation, you can know when it is a good idea to make a concession to get something more important in exchange.

negotiation skill agreement

Moreover, you will know where the value is in a certain offer so you do not turn down an offer that you will not get somewhere else. We’ve all been in a situation where we think we can get a better deal, but there just isn’t anyone else out there offering near to what you just turned down.

2. Practice

Finding someone to sit down with, whether your life partner at home, colleague at work, or best friend over a beer, and thrashing out an effective negotiation strategy can really help when it comes to the big day. Having someone else’s input can give you a different perspective on how to approach what you want.

What you might think is a trifle and that will be agreed to simply may, on reflection and a few words from your practice subject, turn out to be something bigger and worth a think about.

The good thing about trying out your negotiation techniques on your friends and family is that they will be much more forgiving than your real opponent on the day.

Moreover, the practice that you undertake will make certain actions second nature. This is particularly helpful if you are not good off the cuff or become nervous when put on the spot.

3. Agree to a Process

The negotiation part is obviously the most important aspect. However, the situation in which you negotiate is also of high importance. Are you a morning person? If not, then you don’t want to be around the negotiation table at 8:30 am. Other procedural aspects can be the location and what the agenda is.

If you have a meeting on the other side of town and will be in a rush to get there, it is obviously a good idea to reschedule so you don’t turn up sweaty and out of breath.

process and analysis during negotiation

There may be key aspects of the negotiation that you want to speak about first, whilst your counterparty wishes to speak about these topics at the end. Making all of these aspects clear and agreeing to them beforehand will make the whole negotiation process run much smoother.

When remote, choose the right place to speak from. Try to find a quiet place. Otherwise, you can use a background noise-cancelling app to make it seem like you are in a quieter place.

4. Rapport

Building a healthy relationship with your counter negotiating party is essential to getting what you want. Employ small talk: ask how your opponent is doing and try to get on friendly terms. Showing them that the negotiations, however they go, are business and not personal, will really make a big difference in the outcome.

You can do this by making a real introduction before starting the negotiations, whether over the phone or in person. If you are dealing with someone from another culture, try to understand aspects of that culture and some words in their language, this will really win you some respect.

5. Listen Well

When did you ever get what you wanted by talking over someone else?

Count being a good and patient listener as a great negotiation skill. Be ready to stay silent and listen when necessary and this is a part of physical meetings and conference call etiquette as well.

This will help structure the negotiation process and stop it from becoming a situation in which everyone talks over each other and no one listens.

This really is win-win in negotiation and life in general. Definitely not a negotiation strategy to turn your nose up at. Staying quiet and listening tentatively can also buy you time to formulate counter arguments to aspects of the negotiation that you may disagree to.

listen while negotiating

6. Learn How to Say No

In general, humans are non-confrontational and we are taught from being little that we should do what we are told. As with many things from childhood, this is a feature of adulthood and we seek compromises in the things that we do.

This translates to psychological complexes in which people can look to please others by agreeing to things that they may not necessarily want.

As part of your negotiation training, you can practice saying no and being more assertive in other parts of life.

For example, that meal that you weren’t happy with at the restaurant: tell the waiter about it! That colleague sat across the way from you irritably tabbing away on their keyboard: ask them to tone it down.

7. Make a Record

Most negotiations, whether for a large corporate contract, a wage rise or other, take place over several stages. As such, you should look to record what has been said at every stage.

Keeping a log of everything can keep you abreast of what is going on and you can use your notes as a refresher before any meetings.

record phone call during negotiation

You can either record on paper or you can record the audio of the negotiation. Call recording or recording the conversation is generally legal, so long as you use it only for personal use and do not distribute the transcription to others, or use it for any other purpose than to refresh your mind.

However, it is considered good practice to inform the counterparty of the fact that you intend to record the meeting. This, although, comes with a caveat of its own: should they refuse you are not allowed to record the conversation for any purpose.

The above list gives you a quick lo-down of the art of negotiation and a template for a winning negotiation strategy. Follow these best practices to make your next meeting an effective negotiation and get you off on the front foot. Good luck!