Negotiation skills training can be helpful in many different situations, not just in the business world. Such skills can help you navigate conflicts and find solutions that work for everyone involved.
Here are five negotiation skills that can help you better navigate tense situations.
Communicate with clear intent
Words have the power to inflame or help a situation. So, be intentional about what you say and how you say it.
Also, be mindful of who’s on the other end of the negotiating table. Some negotiation partners may need a gentler and more persuasive tone, while others prefer directness.
To improve your communication skills:
- Keep your message simple and to the point.
- Use inclusive terms such as “we” instead of “you,” as such statements can sound accusatory.
- Avoid using absolutes like “never” or “always,” since such words can come off as aggressive.
- Make sure your body language is in sync with your words and tone.
Have you ever seen a calm conversation quickly explode into a shouting match? This switch is often ignited when people stop listening to each other.
When people feel ignored or overlooked, they can become frustrated and argumentative. This can make conflicts last longer instead of resolving them. So, be present and really listen to what’s being said.
Negotiation trainers share the following tips on how to sharpen your listening skills:
- Allow people to express themselves without interrupting them.
- Clear away mental and physical distractions so you can give the discussion your full attention.
- Pay attention to nonverbal cues like facial expressions and body language.
Empathy is the ability to understand how someone else feels by stepping into their shoes. Showing empathy helps build trust and creates a spirit of understanding and collaboration. All of which help truly squash conflict.
To practice empathy:
- Acknowledge other people’s feelings even if you disagree with them.
- Focus on understanding rather than debating points.
- Be conscious of your biases and avoid making assumptions.
Manage your emotions
Conflict can stir up a host of emotions. How you manage those emotions can help or hinder your ability to effectively address conflict. For example, anger or a lack of patience can alienate others. On the other hand, enthusiasm and openness can create a positive atmosphere.
To effectively manage your emotions:
- Practice exercises that help reduce your stress, like deep breathing.
- Take breaks when you need to reset your feelings.
- Speak in a calm and collected manner, and avoid the urge to be overly emotional.
- Try to separate the person from the issue.
Distinguish between interests and positions
Positions are what people say they want, while interests are why they negotiate for a point. For example, a person may ask for more vacation days because they want a greater work-life balance.
Negotiation skill trainers say uncovering interests helps get to the heart of the issue. Once you know a person’s interests and needs, you can craft a solid solution.
To do this:
- Listen and watch for hints about the underlying motivations.
- Ask open-ended questions to better understand the other person’s needs.
- Research the issue to identify interests that may not be readily apparent.
No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to bump into conflict. The above negotiation skills help reduce friction and create an environment where everyone’s needs are heard and respected.