Negotiating is an ever-evolving process that requires fast yet accurate thinking and nerves of steel.
Fortunately, the skills you need are easily learnable in a reputable negotiations class. This article shares the top five skills you’ll need to succeed at the bargaining table in 2023.
1. The ability to read people
The ability to read people helps you understand what they’re thinking, feeling, and, possibly, what their intentions are. You can use these insights to adjust your tactics on the fly so that you can influence desired actions.
For example, if you sense that the other side is getting antsy, you can sweeten the deal with a concession. If they’re fidgeting or using evasive language, it’s likely that they’re feeling uncomfortable. You can ask questions to get them to open up and share their pressing concerns.
2. Building rapport
Rapport helps create trust and understanding. When negotiators trust each other, they are more likely to find common ground and make mutually beneficial decisions. Also, if issues arise, discussions are more likely to be constructive.
Building rapport takes time. So, start early and be patient. It’s also important to be genuine in your efforts. If you try to build rapport just to manipulate the other side, it will be obvious, and the meeting won’t lead to your desired destination.
3. Be strategically patient
Timing is everything when you’re trying to persuade someone. If you move too fast, you could come across as pushy or desperate. But if it looks like you’re dragging your feet, the other person could lose interest. That’s why in a negotiations training class, you’re taught to be strategically patient.
Strategic patience means that you’re aware of the timing of each offer and counteroffer. It’s about taking cues from the other person and knowing when to make your move. This helps keep the discussion moving forward without appearing pushy.
4. Think on your feet
Negotiations can be unpredictable. One moment, an agreement could be within arm’s reach. The next, you’re hitting a brick wall. Being able to think on your feet allows you to craft solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems. Also, it gives you the ability to take advantage of opportunities that pop up.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to negotiate a better price with a website developer.
They throw out a number that’s way higher than what you were expecting. Instead of giving up, you could ask that they throw in some extra features for free. Or you could ask for a lower price and offer to pay a larger deposit.
5. Stay calm under pressure
Negotiations can go from 0 to 100 in the blink of an eye. If you blow your top, you could sink the deal. For one, you’re likely to make rash decisions that you later regret. Also, an ill-timed outburst could sour any positive relationships you’ve built.
Staying calm when discussions get heated allows you to remain clear-headed. You can think more rationally and act accordingly. This gives you a better chance of turning the conversation around. Or, at the very least, not adding fuel to the fire.
These are a few of the skills that can help you strengthen your ability to persuade others.
Keep in mind that continuous practice is key to wielding your negotiation skills confidently.
So, consider taking a class in negotiation strategy or working with a pro to help you hone your skills.