Negotiation is simply the process of a discussion to reach some sort of agreement, especially as it relates to matters of business or state; negotiation skills are the skills most apt or efficacious in reaching the agreement you desire (or your company or organization), rather than the opposition. Other synonyms for negotiation are; wheeling and dealing, arbitrage, bargaining, debate, transaction, mediation and settlement. But negotiation skills are not limited to business or ambassadors and secretaries of state; we negotiate in our every day lives when we decide what restaurant to go to, what movie to watch, what to do on a rainy day. Just watch young children “negotiate” which TV channel they are going to watch!
In fact, strength and force could be considered a negotiation skill. Many times when there is a hostile take-over in the business world, the company or corporation with superior leverage, more market shares, greater cash flow, etc., can negotiate a better bargain in the company buy-out due to a stronger financial base. However, in real life, an equitable negotiation may in fact be more of a compromise, rather than “I’m bigger and badder than you are, eat it!” There are such things as business ethics. Unfortunately, if one side in the negotiation determines that they will never again do any business with a particular company or organization, they may indeed “play hardball”, which is certainly a legitimate negotiation skill. The classic movie “Wall Street” exemplifies some of the ruthless negotiation skills utilized by banking financiers.
Compromising in Negotiation Skills
Most people react negatively to ultimatums and inflexibility (“Take it or leave it.”), so a more productive negotiation skill is compromise, give and take, give a little, gain a lot. Think more like a lawyer, rather than a corporate predator, such as portrayed in the movie “American Psychopath”. Successful negotiation will be a series of tradeoffs and exchanging acceptable alternatives. It’s about building relationships with those you are negotiating with. You want it to be more of a “win-win” result, so that all parties are positive at the outcome; you got what you wanted, I got what I wanted, we are both happy and satisfied.
The expert negotiator does not have to hypnotize or swindle the opposition. However, such an individual will have superior negotiation skills such that they consistently get the best possible deal, all the time, even under less-than-ideal circumstances. It can be theorized that successful negotiators follow a four step process of; preparation, information exchange, explicit bargaining, and commitment. There is a pre-bargaining phase, bargaining phase, and closure phase. Understanding each of these phases is critical to successful negotiation and implementing the different negotiation skills required.
There are so many different negotiation skill sets that can be developed; lines of communication, listening carefully, attitude, cooperation, planning, goals, concession, mediation, and so on. In the end, what you really want is a mutually acceptable compromise where both sides get as much as they want. That is the ideal; if the other person must give way, then some sort of compensation should be offered. Over time, through hard-won experience, your negotiation skills may lend you the title of Master Negotiator!