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The average person engages in some form of negotiation on a daily basis. From time-management struggles to managing employees, work/life balances issues and even parenthood, opportunities to hone negotiation skills are everywhere. Improving your negotiation skills can mean greater peace of mind, increased harmony among the team, and the chance to advance personal and business relationships toward future success.,

There are several basic elements common to various negotiation situations:

Assessing your needs and wants and what you are really after. Knowing the needs and wants for all other parties involved. Staging the discussion. Identifying areas for compromise. Following-up with an action plan.

Assessing Your Needs and Wants Before engaging in formal negotiations, it is prudent to first determine your needs and what you want to achieve. Legitimate needs are those issues or items that, when left unaddressed, can cause distress and obstacles that are not easily overcome. Wants are those issues that are sometimes nuisance items with the potential to pose a greater threat in time, but that can be dealt with before the threat can occur. These items can include morale and comfort-level issues for you and your team. Try looking at each of the needs and wants you identify from various angles to truly identify the root cause, implications, and some possible solutions. Document your ideas to have on hand during formal negotiation meetings. This advance work will not only help focus your discussion, but also lend credibility to your argument.

Researching the Other Parties

Negotiations should never be considered a winner takes all proposition. In fact, the goal is more akin to formally compromising to the mutual benefit of all parties involved. In order to achieve your goals and successfully engage other parties, you must first do the research required to identify their pain points and desired goals. Most project leaders and divisional directors focus on cutting costs and reducing time to completion metrics. Typically, they focus on balancing resources and driving results aggressively when needed. Your past successes in this effort may be commendable, but dont count on them carrying much weight in a negotiation effort going forward. When budgetary dollars are on the line, internal competition can be tough. Therefore, you should focus on those areas where you can highlight your value proposition in the future.

Staging the Discussion

When and where negotiations take place can play an essential role in shaping the outcome. Also, keep discussion points concise and focused on the discussion at hand. If additional discussion points come up, do not add them to the current meeting. Instead, elect to call a separate meeting to address those issues and include some bullet items clearly outlining the topic. That way, the stakeholders will be well informed and better prepared. When negotiating with your manager or other colleagues, choose to sit close and on the same side of the meeting table. This should be a collaborative discussion and your posture should reflect that. Be polite, be calm, and move for a break if things do escalate and tensions rise.

The Game Plan

Always stick to your plan and remain strong on your highly valued needs. Street Life Correspondent and tonguein-cheek negotiation coach, Mr. Mafioso writes, In negotiations, concessions are always made. But no matter how much you concede to close the deal, the core of what is important in a deal should not be waived. Undermining your own position and failing to achieve critical goals may actually compound the initial concerns that prompted the meeting in the first place.

Follow-up with an Action Plan

A common mistake many people make is simply walking away at the conclusion of the meeting. This leaves the door open to creating instances where one side may forget decision points or recall elements of the exchange quite differently. The worst possible scenario in negotiating is having to forward the same petition twice. This allows other managers time to counter all of your arguments and mount formidable arguments of their own. Take a few minutes at the end of the discussion to recap on the issues and the decisions made. If needed, consider scheduling an additional time to speak about milestones and actions plans as well as a clear timeline. Dont stop there! Get it typed, confirm it again via email, and be sure to send if off for all parties to review and formally ratify as a means of finality.

Don't go in aggressively or in an adversarial frame of mind: 1. Use friendly language and gestures. 2. Be prepared to chat about non-relevant subjects before getting down to business. 3. Arrange seating at angles or around the corner of a table rather than directly face-to-face.

Analyze the interest of the parties: This is important to understand the perceptions, the style of negotiation, and the interests and principles of the counterparts, as well as one's own. Plan the negotiation, and determine: What are the expectations from the negotiation? What are the terms of the negotiation? What are the nonnegotiable terms and what can be modified? What is the minimum that an agreement can be reached on? What is the negotiation strategy? What are the most important interests of the other parties? How does one interact with or manage people?

Select the appropriate negotiation technique from among the following:

Spiraling agreements: Begin by reaching a minimum agreement even though it is not related to the objectives, and build, bit by bit, on this first agreement.

Changing of position: Formulate the proposals in a different way, without changing the final result.
Gathering information: Ask for information from the other party to clarify their position. Making the cake bigger: Offer alternatives that may be agreeable to the other party, without changing the terms. Commitments: Formalize agreements orally and in writing before ending the negotiation.

Negotiate: Be sensitive and quick to adapt to changing situations, but do not lose sight of the objective.
Avoid confrontational positions and try to understand the interests of the other party. Some aspects that could interfere with the negotiation are: personal positions and interests Psychological and emotional aspects of the persons (place, placement of chairs, body language, gestures, etc.) Difficulties in communication (differences in languages, different meanings of the same words, etc.)