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Effectiveness in Negotiations is the Key to Success

If you’re in business, you know how important negotiation skills can be for your career success. Improving your negotiation skills can help you in life and in business. There are many tips, techniques, books and training courses on the topic. One important skill that many people overlook is abstract thinking. One common issue that people have with negotiating is that they get bogged down in the details. When you lose sight of the larger goal of the negotiation, those small details can become a source of disagreement, and make it more difficult to achieve a good outcome. The parties may begin focusing on those details where they disagree, and overlook other areas where they could have common ground.


Effectiveness in negotiations

How can effectiveness in business negotiations help people achieve greatness? Let’s start with a simple claim: one cannot achieve success without being completely focused on the end goal. For instance, if you’re in a business that is negotiating pay increases with employees, you might be very focused on the percentage increase in pay. This could become a sticking point, as both sides tried to win that issue. This thinking can lead to a win-lose outcome. In order for you to win, somebody else has to lose.

On the other hand, if the parties were not so focused on that particular issue, they might find that the policy on sick leave was a matter of importance to employees. The company would not mind some changes on sick leave, and the employees would be happy to accept a lesser pay raise when sick leave was addressed. This would be a win-win outcome, where both sides could be happy with the result.


How do you find such opportunities to get to a win-win outcome?  The key – abstract thinking

When you begin a negotiation, it is normal for both sides to set out their initial positions, and then assume that they are in adversarial roles. Each is trying to reach their own desired outcome, or as close to it as possible, by getting the other party to make concessions. It is important to remember, though, that there could be a higher purpose behind the whole negotiation. For instance, if you wanted to pay the lowest possible prices to a supplier, that would be part of a larger goal of reducing costs, and using resources efficiently. It would be easy to focus in on the cost aspect, and miss other ways in which resources could be used more efficiently.

As an example, a supplier might be requiring higher prices because they do not have warehouse space in your city. If you knew that, and your company had extra warehouse capacity, using that resource more efficiently could enable your supplier to give you a better price. Reaching that understanding would require an element of trust, so that the supplier was willing to explain their situation.

Here are a few techniques that can help you think abstractly.

  • Put yourself in their shoes – Imagine that you are working for the other company in this negotiation. What would you be thinking?
  • Imagine it in the future – Rather than feeling the pressure of the moment, imagine that the negotiation is taking place a few months from now.
  • Imagine it far away – Mentally remove yourself from the immediate scene of the negotiation, and imagine you are far away, just calling in for the meeting.


Golden rules in negotiations to help you succeed

In some way or another, every business negotiation is different. Prior to starting to compromise and close a deal, a business individual should first assess the situation and bear in mind some golden rules that could help him succeed. Here are some very good pointers:

  • Before the start of the negotiation, find a way to link your needs and interests to the needs and interests of your opponent
  • Meanwhile, try not to negotiate against yourself – that can happen when a business person doesn’t fully understand what the other side wants
  • Find mutual ground without too much compromise
  • Walk away if there’s no way of reaching mutual ground

The success of your business depends on effective negotiations. Every entrepreneur, CEO, manager and company owner should know how to bargain. Otherwise, opponents will take advantage of your weaknesses and they won’t hesitate to trick you into accepting a bad deal.


By Steve Brown and!

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