In any type of partnership or contract, a two-way street is ideal, where both parties give and take and find a mutually beneficial arrangement, but it doesn’t always work out that way in business or in our personal relationships. The art of negotiations and recognizing when there is a deal-buster is important. We don’t have to have it our way, but it is important to be respected even when you disagree.

When negotiation is required, keep in mind that you are opposing the other party. Knowing the opposition and understanding how they will likely respond will strengthen your position. Here are some ideas that can help you have more effective negotiations.

Be a detective

Learn as much as you can about the opposition. Understand their objectives and be clear on yours. You will be able to uncover areas of potential conflict by identifying points that are significant to you, representing the interest of your practice and clarify points that are important to the opposition.  You’ll also learn what might be most important to the opposition. Explore their strengths and weaknesses and how you can you use these in your negotiation strategy. The more you know, the better you will be able to anticipate the responses you are likely to receive.

It is also important to know where both parties are already in agreement. These shared objectives can help build essential rapport before opening up issues where there is likely to be conflict or disagreement.

Have a plan

Develop your strategy for negotiations carefully and be prepared to provide supporting documentation for your case. When possible, quote credible sources that share your position. This will help influence the opposition and strengthen your position at the bargaining table.

Identify potential deal busters

It is important to recognize that even with best efforts that are times when you hit an impasse that cannot be overcome. Those are the deal busters. Know what yours are before you begin negotiations so time is not wasted and you can work to end the process respectfully. It is important to honor each others’ position in a way that doesn’t severely alter an otherwise reasonable working relationship.

Know the options

Negotiation requires flexibility on both sides. If you know your options up-front and you are clear about the areas where you can bend a little, you might tip the scale in your favor. Knowing what’s imperative to the opposition, you can push the limits to gain more and still give the opponent what they need from the deal.

Keep your emotions in check

Be aware of key discussion points that may cause a negative reaction on either side. If you react negatively, your reaction can place the opposition in a defensive position. Defensiveness can quickly turn to anger that impedes the ability to achieve a desired result, but attentive listening and open discussion will set the tone for respectful communication.

You are likely to be more successful by being sensitive to body language that signals whether your opponent is willing to hearing opposing arguments during the discussion. Eye contact, open arms and leaning forward are all favorable signs. It is also important to be positioned equally. This is why round conference tables are advantageous and telephone negotiations are more difficult to manage.

It may not be a two-way street and it may not always work out. Still, it is important to remember that we enter negotiations to make the deal work – and this can only happen when both parties are flexible and feel they have achieved what is most critical to them, believing the deal is fair and balanced.

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