If you find yourself regularly walking away unsatisfied from negotiations, be it with clients, colleagues or loved ones, it’s easy to become disheartened and lose belief in yourself. But the art of negotiating is just that—an art, a soft skill—and any number of issues could be hampering your chances of success. It’s highly likely you don’t even have an accurate idea of what your negotiation skills are: in multiple tests, more than half of participants failed to correctly assess how assertive their opposing negotiator found them. There really is no substitute to learning some cold, hard, objective negotiation techniques if you want to find success.
Your game should begin before you even enter the room, both in terms of researching your counterpart (what they need, what they’re capable of) and by clarifying for yourself exactly why you’re even negotiating—and identifying your bottom line. Be prepared to compromise by knowing exactly which parts of a deal are essential to you and those which you can give up or alter if it will put you in a stronger position. Knowing this information before you begin will make you more confident and bolster your performance.
Once you’re face to face, negotiating is largely about people skills: If you think you already know it all, that’s a good sign that you actually have some work to do. This is because people skills are not about finite rules and textbook gestures, so much as listening, asking questions and being prepared to adapt. This might not sound like a strong strategy, but it is better to be flexible and resilient than to be so rigid that you break when the current turns against you.
To get a better idea of just how flexibility can make you a stronger negotiator, as well as some other top tips on how to listen, bargain and get what you want, be sure to check out this new infographic with a step-by-step guide to re-energizing your entire approach to successful negotiation.