How to Improve Your Negotiating Skills

If you open up your favorite news website on any given day, you may naturally assume this world is a very combative place to live. In story after story, you read about big dreams gone sour, divorces that drag on, business deals that go belly up and other negotiation nightmares. But this is not because negotiation itself is difficult or stressful. More accurately, it is because too many people try to negotiate without having the necessary skills for success.

In this post, learn easy ways that you can improve your negotiating skills.

#1: Practice every chance you get.
Some of today’s most skilled negotiators began by seeing every interaction as a potential chance to practice and refine their negotiating skills.

You can even seek out ways to practice, such as by calling your creditor and asking them to lower the interest rate or debating with your tween about the best pizza place to go on Friday night. Best of all, by thinking of each interaction as a negotiation, you will pay closer attention to what works best and feels best for you.

#2: Study up on what the experts have to say.
From local classes to online courses, apps to podcasts, there are a myriad of ways (many of which are free) that you can learn more about what works best for today’s expert negotiators.

By treating negotiation like any other new hobby or skill you want to acquire, you can stay attuned to resources that present themselves and also do the self-work that you will need to do to project confidence and clarity during your negotiations.

#3: Be aware of your body language.
Experts state that as much as 90 percent of all communication is non-verbal. In terms of you communicating with others, this means that you are communicating not just with your words, but also with your eyes, posture, hand gestures, facial expressions, handshake, stance, personal space, tone and volume of voice and much more.

Body language is very important when mastering the art of negotiation, so you should also study yourself in a mirror and try to practice-negotiation and watch what happens. Or stage a mock negotiation and ask a friend to videotape you so you can look for areas to improve.

#4: Listen first, speak second.
You can’t learn anything new about your opponent (aka “fellow negotiator”) if you do all the talking. You won’t identify their weak spots, discover their desires, pick up on their body language or notice any other pertinent details that can influence the negotiation if you are too busy holding the floor. This is why the best negotiators sometimes do very little talking!

A listening-based negotiator is also one who is more likely to see negotiation as a process that can produce a win for all concerned, and can succeed in making that happen.

With these four skills-building tips, you can begin to improve your negotiating skill quickly and experience more positive, productive and satisfying outcomes to your future negotiations.


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