The word ‘negotiation’ may initially conjure images of multi-million-pound deals or international treaties. It’s hard to imagine that such a powerful concept could feature in your life so soon after you graduate.
But you may be surprised to learn that negotiations can come in all shapes and sizes, and as you enter the world of work, you’ll need to quickly learn how to develop negotiation skills that work to your advantage.
Skills You Will Need to Make the Most of Your Negotiations
Although negotiation can be considered a distinct skill in its own right, many different competencies can come together to achieve a successful negotiation.
Some people are born negotiators. They instinctively know how to drive a hard bargain to get what they want. Others find it much harder and need to practice smaller negotiations before feeling comfortable fighting for what they want.
But there are several negotiating skills that you can work on that will collectively improve your bargaining position and enhance your negotiating capabilities.
- Analysing – To be a successful negotiator, you need to think carefully and analyse the situation or problem to create a solution. Then you need to identify a compromise that meets all parties’ needs. This can only be done by considering each parties’ perspective and analysing what each person wants to achieve through the negotiation.
- Communication – How strong are your communication skills? Can you clearly articulate your thoughts and rationale? Can you remain calm under pressure yet remain confident and strong in decision-making? Can you persuade people to come round to your way of thinking?
- Active listening – How closely are you listening to what is being said? Improving your active listening skills could give you an advantage as you’ll be more aware of what is really being said and, more importantly, what isn’t being said. Paying close attention can also reduce any further conflicts arising.
- Strategic thinking – Strategic thinking and careful planning will allow you to think carefully about the different options available within your negotiation. What are your primary goals? How can you compromise with the other parties to make them feel happy with the deal while still achieving what you want or need?
- Building rapport – How good are you at building relationships with people? If you are friendly, personable and likeable you may find it much easier to get people to agree with you. In addition, the better your relationship with the other negotiators, the easier the process will likely be.
Why Negotiation Skills Are Necessary for Business and Everyday Life
You’ll be surprised how often you need to negotiate with people throughout your life. Here are some examples of times you might negotiate in your personal life:
- Negotiating with vendors if you are looking to buy a house
- Negotiating with a car or mobile sales assistant to blag yourself a bargain
- Negotiating with friends or family to decide which restaurant to eat at
In business, being a strong negotiator is part of working as a team. You will need to negotiate tasks and responsibilities with other co-workers. For example:
- Through your job search, you’ll need to know how to negotiate better job offers
- Bargaining with your manager to secure a promotion or pay rise
- Negotiating with third parties as you start to outsource work or bring in new software partners
If you are a good negotiator, you will learn how to develop your personality traits. You will likely become more patient and empathize with other people’s perspectives. You will learn how to work well as part of a team and improve your decision-making and conflict-resolution skills.
All of these traits will make you far more employable in the workplace.
What Is the Impact of Effective Negotiation?
Effective negotiation is about creating solutions and problem-solving, finding ways to overcome issues, and compromising with others.
Let’s use a job offer as a scenario.
The potential employer wants to hire you because you are a good fit for their company and have the skills they need. They have advertised a salary range, so they will be looking to pay you towards the lower end of that range.
As part of a salary negotiation, you need to have the confidence to know your worth. You need to explain your rationale for why you deserve the top end of the pay scale. Then, you need to use your communication and persuasive capabilities to work with the recruiter to find a suitable middle ground that makes you feel good about yourself. You want your new employer to be excited to work with you.
Is Negotiation Important in the Creative Sector?
Many creative agencies rely on freelance support to cover additional skills that they may lack in-house. As part of their recruitment processes, they may have to negotiate fees or timescales, or they may have to look at how to negotiate a package that includes full intellectual property or copyright claims.
It’s also worth noting that some creative sectors are financially recompensed on a results-basis. In which case, you will not only need to negotiate a contract that rewards you for your efforts but one that includes a reward or bonus for outstanding achievements.
In these situations, it’s always important to have your minimum base pay included as your bottom line to ensure that you are fairly compensated. It can be easy for creative workers to focus on the results of the output, without considering how long it takes to create the initial input.
Failure to do so could mean that you inadvertently end up being paid lower than minimum wage.
How to Master the Negotiation Process
Improve Your Negotiation Skills
Practice indeed makes perfect.
The more you use negotiation in the smaller, more relaxed areas of your life, the better your skills will become. This means when you truly need to play hardball, you will have the confidence and capabilities to do so.
If you regularly compromise with others and create solutions that make all parties happy you will become a master problem-solver. You’ll know how to get the best deal for yourself (or your business).
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
To learn how to negotiate effectively, you need to learn from the times when you’ve gone wrong. Understanding why negotiations fail is just as important as learning why they succeed.
Plan what your bottom line is and know what you want to achieve. It’s not a failure to walk away from a negotiation that doesn’t benefit you. On the contrary, the more goals you set, the clearer your objectives will become. This will help you to strengthen your negotiation tactics.
Finally, to be a master negotiator, you need to learn how to calm your emotions and control your body language. Successful negotiating skills lie in communication, so if your body is saying something different from your words, you could be inadvertently scuppering your chances of success.
Negotiation tactics can help you in the workplace, as well as in your private life.
To make the most of your negotiation skills, you need to be clear of the wider skillset that can be found within negotiations, such as communication, analytics, problem-solving and compromise.
Therefore, as a priority, you should focus on these broader skills.
Not only will they help you within your negotiating, but they are also highly valued in the workplace and will help to improve your employability.