The combined power of good communication and superior comprehension skills can help boost any negotiation. But many negotiations – formal or informal, personal or professional – require a stronger skill-set, constituting other strengths and practices than just the ones mentioned above.

Here are a few pointers on what to do and what to avoid during negotiations.

The do’s

  • Make sure to get the three elements – attitude, knowledge, and interpersonal skills – to work in your favor. They affect the outcome of negotiations almost every time.
  • Try to separate the people from the problem, during discussions. Focus on maintaining the relationship and reaching a fruitful agreement.
  • Focus on interests, not positions. Be respectful. Listen carefully. Negotiation is about finding an agreeable solution to a problem, not an excuse to undermine others. Rather than obsessing over the opponent’s position, consider the underlying interests they might have—their needs, desires, and fears.
  • Generate good alternatives that offer gains to both parties. While it’s important to pursue points that are advantageous to you, it’s equally important to stay open to a variety of options.
  • Set an objective standard of what the outcome should be. Some differences might remain at the end of the discussion. Instead of resorting to a confrontational-bargaining approach (which may leave individuals feeling let down or angry), seek a fair, and objective means of resolving the differences.

The don’ts

  • Avoid rushing through a discussion in an attempt to wrap up a deal quickly. Stay calm and methodical, and give conversations the necessary time to progress. It helps avoid mistakes that might stem from oversight.
  • Don’t fixate on personal grudges and let emotions dictate your approach. Apart from interfering with your judgment, it can lead to mistakes that hinder or halt the process altogether.
  • Never say or do anything that might damage long-term relationships, no matter how complex the situation gets. Win-lose approaches, where one party gains and the other is left without any positive result, often end in conflicts that might permanently harm the relationship between the two sides.
  • Steer clear of dishonesty to win an argument. Never hide facts or misrepresent views to mislead people/ situations, as it leads to loss of credibility. People seldom want to engage with a person they can’t trust.
  • Don’t be rigid about your position or make unreasonable demands. An open and accepting discussion will clarify the issues and provide the way forward to a resolution.

Finally, remember that negotiation is a skill that needs to be honed. It takes time and practice. Use the above tips to stay anchored during rough discussions or when you face an experienced negotiator, and know that the first step to getting things right is to keep your emotions in check. Good luck.

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