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Strategic negotiation: the 5 necessary skills




Negotiation is a decision-making process that allows you to reach a compromise or agreement while avoiding arguments and disputes. It often happens, in a discussion, that a person tries to impose his point of view, forgetting that success does not come from winning over others but in being able to achieve one's goals . Each of us has goals of great importance, which we do not want to do without. The good mediator knows how to identify them, negotiate and propose the right understanding. Listen, media, bring all parties into agreement. Any of us can become a good negotiator.

There are various forms of negotiation that are used according to different contexts and situations: sales, purchases, legal contexts, disputes, agreements with employees, with colleagues, with partners, etc. There are few people in the world who have innate negotiation skills, all the others manage to learn them by reading and studying books or thanks to negotiation courses.

The 5 necessary skills

Do you want to be an excellent negotiator and make the best use of the different negotiation methods? The first step, as mentioned, is to buy books, such as this one « Negotiation. Strategies, tools, best practices » by Roy Lewicki and Bruce Barry, or participate in negotiation workshops, specialization courses thanks to which you acquire professional know-how and application methodologies. You are taught how to deal with the different types of negotiation, you develop your communication skills and you begin to put into practice the correct mindset aimed at conciliation.

Every negotiation process has five phases , which at the same time also represent five skills that every good negotiator should possess:

  1. Preparation – Organizational skills
  2. Discussion – Communication skills and assertiveness
  3. Negotiate towards a win-win outcome – Leading and negotiating skills
  4. Agreement - Ability to conciliate
  5. Course of action – Planning skills

1. Preparation

Before any negotiation, it is important to decide when and where the meeting will take place, who will participate, the time available, the goals set. As in a battle, the general has an advantage if he already knows the place, men, dispositions, times and strategies of action. At this stage you need to ensure all relevant facts are shared and remind participants of the 'rules of the game'. As a result, you must be a well-organized person.

2. Discussion

In this phase, each person must have time to present their point of view . The goal is to understand each point of view. The key skills of this phase are: knowing how to ask questions, knowing how to listen, being clear and concise. It is useful to take notes in case misunderstandings arise or clarifications are needed in the continuation. It is extremely important to listen and not interrupt.

The objectives of all the parties involved must emerge clearly from the discussion. It is helpful to prioritize these factors while also identifying the details, so that misunderstandings do not occur for later agreements.


3. Negotiate towards a win-win outcome

This phase is very delicate, it focuses on what is defined as a "win-win result" (in which both parties win). The goal is to seek a common understanding solution , a meeting point that grants some main objectives to both parties. Alternative strategies and compromises can also be used. In this phase you must be a good communicator, clear, skilled in conducting negotiations, you must be able to identify and propose the right meeting points. Furthermore, you must have problem solving skills.

4. Agreement

It is easier to reach an agreement if the parties have a proactive attitude and know how to listen to each other. Each type of agreement must be clear, well explained and shared between the parties. In this phase you must know how to mediate, you must not remain impartial to the end. You have to bring together and harmonize two thoughts that are born opposites. You must be a true peacemaker.

5. Course of action

From the agreement derives a line of action, a program that the parties will have to follow , perhaps step by step or according to a precise timeline. At this stage you need to be pragmatic, have the ability to plan and coordinate. You must be a good project manager.

In case of no agreement

If the negotiation process stops and no agreement is reached, a further meeting should be renegotiated immediately. This way you avoid unnecessary discussions and waste of time. In the next meeting, the negotiation steps can be repeated one by one. Individual situations should be re-examined taking into consideration new ideas and of course new meeting points.
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