How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills: 8 of the Most Useful Tips

Negotiating is a powerful and useful skill. In fact, most of us use this skill daily in formal and informal situations, whether we’re aware of it or not.

If you know how to negotiate well, you can dramatically improve your outcomes. Whether you’re wrangling with teenagers or discussing a salary increase, this article explores five tips that can help you improve your negotiating skills.

Negotiation Skills, Negotiation Tips,

Sign up for a training course

Attending top negotiation training classes is a great way to improve your skills. Expert trainers can give you a solid foundation in principles, strategies, and best practice.

For example, you can learn how to deal with different personalities that you’re likely to come across. Also, training courses can show you how to avoid lopsided deals and smoothly navigate conflicts.

Take time to prepare

Aside from training, preparation is a key way to improve your results. Research shows that underprepared negotiators are more likely to underestimate what they have to offer. Negotiators who don’t do their homework may also be swayed by flashy offers that lack substance.

Preparation helps you improve your performance by allowing you time to organize your thoughts. Also, carving out time to prepare ensures you have solid responses for any objections you might receive.

As you prepare, here are some general points to consider:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What are their major pain points?
  • What do I need to communicate to ensure a successful outcome?
  • What’s the best way to proceed?
  • How might the other person react during the conversation?
  • What objections might the other person have?
  • How will I respond to those objections?

Control your emotions

People can get emotional during negotiations, especially when the stakes are high. However, losing control of your emotions can cause the meeting to run off the rails. Emotions are part and parcel of the human experience. As a result, you can’t flush your feelings away, but you can learn to control the hold that emotions have on you.

Training yourself to keep your emotions in check is key to walking away with better outcomes. Here are some tips that can help you regulate your emotions:

  • Be aware of what your triggers are.
  • Try and build rapport before, during, and after the meeting.
  • If things get heated, hit the pause button rather than push on.

Practice often

Improving any skill, negotiating included, requires that you actively practice. Taking time to practice is the best way to cement new knowledge and acquire expertise. Also, going over what you’ve learned can boost your confidence. In turn, stepping up your confidence can improve how you negotiate. 

For the best results, negotiation trainers say to practice in conditions as close to real life as possible. Practice is also most effective when it’s consistent. So, be sure to commit time regularly and consistently. Experts recommend working on your skills every day. 

Find a mentor

Being mentored by someone who’s already a successful negotiator is another effective way to improve your skills. Mentors can give you tips on how to apply various strategies. They can also help you improve specific areas of weakness you may be struggling with.

Practicing negotiation tips and techniques you’ve picked up in training is only effective if you’re applying them correctly. Working with a mentor helps ensure that you’re on the right tracks when it comes to using new techniques.

Take your time during the meeting

Trying to work out a deal can be stressful. The process can also sometimes be highly charged. It’s tempting to want to strap on some speed skates and rush through the process. However, the best training companies say that negotiators who rush tend to leave value on the table. Also, your impatience gives the other side leverage.

When you take your time, it can help you snag larger gains in the long run. That’s because you can better understand what’s on offer and what the risks are. Also, you can focus on getting your points across clearly and confidently.

Here are a few ways you can train yourself to be patient during a negotiation:

  • Once you make an offer, wait until the other side responds with a counteroffer.
  • Try not to get lost in minor details. Focus on the big picture.

Practice active listing

Tightening up your listening skills can improve how you negotiate. For one, strong listening skills can help you uncover critical facts. Also, you’re in a stronger position to calm tensions and break deadlocks when you’ve been paying close attention to what is said.

Improving active listening skills requires deliberate practice. Here are some tips from negotiation trainers that can help:

  • Minimize any distractions so you can give the speaker your full attention.
  • Avoid interrupting the speaker. If you have a question, write it down and ask it once they’ve finished speaking.
  • Take notes during the conversation to minimize the risk of misunderstanding.
  • Don’t make assumptions about what is said. Ask questions for clarity whenever you’re unsure.

Strengthen communication skills

Effective communication is vital to any type of negotiation. Clear and honest conversations (both verbal and written) help minimize or even eliminate misunderstanding.

Strengthening how you communicate involves paying attention to what you say and how you say it. The goal is to ensure that the person you’re speaking to not only heard the message but got the context right, too.

Body language (posture, facial expressions, hand gestures) is also a key component of communication skills. When your words and body language are in sync, others will trust you far more. As a result, the other person is more likely to work cooperatively with you. Performing your presentation in front of a friend or coworker is one way to work on your body language. They can point out any missteps you make that you’re not aware of. Recording yourself in an actual negotiation is also a plus. You can review the tape and find areas that require focused training.

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