6 Steps to Become a Master Negotiator

6 Steps to Become a Master Negotiator

In the business world, learning to negotiate can be one of the most valuable practices you can carry throughout your career. The most successful negotiators, those whose track record enables them to be called master negotiators, are both excellent problem solvers and opportunity seekers. See our six steps for mastering negotiations.

1. Come to the table incredibly well-prepared

The biggest mistake people can make is to come to the table overly confident and under-prepared. No matter how experienced you are, you should not assume that each negotiation will be alike. You do not want to realise in the middle of a negotiation that you are missing some key information or are lacking direction.


2. Understand your negotiating style

There are a number of negotiating styles which can be effective and ineffective depending on who is delivering them and how. Therefore, you must understand your own negotiating style, how effectively you use that style and how your style interacts with others who use a similar or different style. Master negotiators don’t assume that they know where their style works for them and where it works against them, they have learned to be flexible and to compensate for any weakness by constantly asking others for feedback.



3. Create and claim maximum value

Creating and claiming value are at the heart of the negotiation process. Creating value is our ability to effectively develop creative solutions to meet the needs of all parties at the negotiating table. Whereas claiming value is our ability to effectively get our needs and interests met through the negotiating process. Most negotiators do a good job either at creating value or claiming value, but master negotiators do a good job of both.



4. Be aware of yourself and the process

Negotiators have to be aware at all times of the effect that their behaviour, both verbal and non-verbal, can have on the negotiation process. Negotiators must develop awareness in three critical areas, which can be characterised as a three-legged stool. The first leg represents the outcome, the second represents the people and the relationships they have, and the third leg represents the process the parties will use to reach an agreement. If any of the legs do not measure up, the stool can become unstable and the negotiation process can be disrupted. Therefore, negotiators must ensure each part of the process is monitored to move towards optimal performance.



5. Master networking skills

Master negotiators are also master networkers. They use their networks superbly, when necessary, to help them come to the negotiating table better prepared, to help them manage the negotiation process more effectively, and to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.



6. Become a life-long learner

Learning how to negotiate and learning from our negotiations are so important. Master negotiators learn continuously and that learning is compounded by what they have learned previously. For truly important negotiations, ask your colleagues to help you role play the negotiation. Just as you would not show up on opening night for the lead role in a play without going to rehearsals, you want to rehearse your most important negotiations playing your role and then the role of the person with whom you will be negotiating.



What do you think?

The world we live and work in is increasingly competitive and complex, but mastering negotiations continue to be critical to business success. How do you approach a negotiation? I’m interested to explore the different type of negotiation styles that lead to successful outcomes. Comment your views below and join the conversation.

This article was written by Jelena Milutinovic and Megan Baker on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources were used to compile this article: Business Insider and Ivey Business Journal


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