The art of negotiation



The ability to negotiate successfully is a life skill useful in many different situations, inside and outside the business arena. It is inevitable that small business owners will negotiate with their employees, suppliers, customers and other stakeholders in subtle or obvious ways to ensure the smooth functioning of the business. Not all small business owners are confident negotiators – they may be hampered by their shyness, lack of self-confidence, desire to be liked by others, cultural beliefs, and a disinclination to play the power and mind games commonly associated with negotiations.

Fortunately, any small business owner can become a good negotiator with the right guidance and lots of practice. In his book Getting More, negotiation expert Stuart Diamond details 12 strategies to assist those who want to master the art of negotiation. In summary, they are:

  1. Set goals and know what you are trying to achieve. In his words, ‘Goals are the be-all and end-all of all negotiations. You negotiate to meet your goals. Everything else is subservient to that.’
  2. Understand the people you are negotiating with – what are their perceptions and needs? What is important to them?
  3. Establish some kind of emotional connection, making sure to acknowledge and value the other person.
  4. Recognize that each situation is different and adapt as necessary.
  5. Take things slow, avoiding the ‘big bang’ approach where you ask for too much at once.
  6. Trade things you value unequally.
  7. Point out when the other party’s behavior is inconsistent with their standards, policies, and past actions or statements.
  8. Be yourself, and do not deceive or manipulate people.
  9. Keep communicating throughout the process.
  10. Find out the real problems or obstacles that are preventing you from reaching an agreement, and view them as opportunities.
  11. Embrace differences.
  12. Prepare an action plan and stick with it until you meet your goals.

Instead of seeing negotiating as a difficult or awkward task, small business owners can choose to change their perspective and use it to get what they want. For this to happen, they should muster their courage and practice, practice, practice.

Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi


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