Remember that time when you bargained with your parents to get a toy that you really wanted? How about that time when you convinced your friends to do any activity that they may not have been so keen on? If you found yourself agreeing to either of these two statements, then you have practised some level of negotiating. Currently, many employers and employees are starting to place importance in having strong negotiation skills in the workplace. In fact, Udemy, an online skill learning website, shared that learning negotiation skills is their seventh most popular course.
what exactly is negotiation?
According to Roloff, Putnam and Anastasiou (2003), negotiation is a ''communication-based activity through which parties attempt to create understandings, agreements, or contracts that define the nature of their future interdependence."
Just from that sentence alone can you see that negotiation encompasses a whole range of qualities that can be parked under soft skills – such as communication, persuasion and strategising. These are crucial skills to have in the workplace, especially during instances where you want to ask for a raise, discuss work responsibilities or come to a settlement with your client. And if you have read any of our previous articles on soft skills, you would know that they are completely learnable and not just inherent to us!
With that being said, taking a structured approach to your negotiation process will definitely work in your favour and provide an outcome that is agreeable for all parties involved. Below, we have outlined 4 steps that you can take to ensure a successful negotiation.
Preparation is important in all aspects of life and especially in a negotiation where you would need to discuss why your idea is worth considering. Evaluate all parties involved and consider their goals on top of yours. In this stage, you should also consider all the outcomes of the negotiation and prepare for each one of them. Gather all the pertinent information and data that you need to support your idea.
During this stage, the parties involved will put forward their own cases and clarify their goals. An important skill here would be engaging in active listening so that you can address their case and put forward your points. Disagreements are likely to happen here, so clear communication is crucial and everyone should get an equal opportunity to present their view
3. Negotiate towards a win-win outcome
While a win-win outcome might be difficult to achieve, it should be the ultimate goal for any negotiation. This is where your preparation will come in handy because you may need to propose alternate strategies or compromises that will be beneficial to all parties involved. Additionally, keep an open mind and try to understand the other party's viewpoint so that it will be easier to reach an acceptable outcome.
4. Implement a course of action
The final step is when all parties have agreed to a course of action and will now take steps to implement it. If your idea has been adopted, congratulations! You have just completed a successful negotiation. Even if it didn't, treat it as an opportunity to understand where you can improve. Remember, the more you practice, the better you will get at it.
Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing. - Carrie Fisher