3 Things Great Negotiators Do

First, in the beginning, negotiators always focus on the relationship, realizing that even if they cannot reach agreement in this specific meeting, there will always be future opportunities. They prepare and plan for a positive environment, how will they manage the conflict, who is in the room and how can they show respect to each person in the meeting.

Common ground is a key behavior that great negotiators know can overcome conflicting issues and build trust into the process. People like to deal with others when they feel they have something in common.

Good negotiators seek to create a positive working climate with the other party. “A critical element in any negotiation – and one that frequently causes the most anxiety – is the quality of the working relationship we have with the other party. A good working relationship enables us to handle our differences efficiently.” (Fisher and Ertel, 1995)

A clear agenda needs to be created including date, time, issues to be covered, etc. as well as the names of all negotiators. This agenda should be created in consultation with the other party. (Fuller, 1991) They want to make sure that everyone has a voice in the meeting who wants one.

Effective negotiators take much more time discussing areas of common interest and the attractiveness of reaching agreement than poorer negotiators. (Pruit and Rubin,)

Secondly, great negotiators always know what they want and are willing to ask for it. They use assertive language that shows clarity and purpose. “Here is what we want…”This is what we are looking for…My suggestion is that we do it like this.”

Effective negotiators state a clear opening need and stick to it until they sense the other party clearly understands it.

And thirdly, great negotiators ask more questions. Researchers tell us that they ask three times more questions than ordinary negotiators.

Good negotiators ask “problem-solving questions” to understand the other’s position and underlying needs (Ury, 1991) and look for possible ways to reach agreement. ” There will almost certainly be some shared interests on which it may be possible to build. There will also almost certainly be features of the conflict where we can satisfy some interest of the other side without causing damage to any significant interest of our own.” (Fisher, Kopelman, Schneider, 1994)

After they ask these questions they display by listening and paraphrasing skills to check understanding. Successful negotiators more frequently paraphrase and check for understanding than the average negotiators. They also ask significantly more questions. (Rackham, 1976)

Follow these 3 tips and not only will you be a better negotiator but you will build your reputation as someone who is great to negotiate with, strong, clear and respectful.