Negotiation Training Tips
A lot of people have very little formal negotiation training and experience. This topic is not often addressed in business education programs. Instead, you are expected to learn on the job. This is unfortunate because you often will have to negotiate important issues with very capable people. If you are lucky, they will have a good working relationship with you and they'll keep your interests in mind. Worst case, you could be dealing with a person who enjoys extracting the most out of each deal.
When you enter a negotiation session, you should evaluate your counterpart carefully. As soon as you meet, get information about your counterpart. Did they insist on meeting at their location? If so, what is the setting like? Is it designed to intimidate you? Look at your counterpart's chair and then yours. Is his really fancy and yours not? Does your chair feel uncomfortable? Sometimes the venue is just a random collection of furniture, but other times even the furniture can be set up to give an advantage to the host. A classic was for chairs to be uncomfortable and have lowered front legs. This would keep a person on edge and hopefully get their attention diverted away from the important issues. The skilled negotiator could dictate terms more easily. If the room is set up against you, try to figure that out right away.
How does your counterpart make you feel in the negotiation session? Is he or she sincere? Do they truly listen to you? Your first impression can tell you just how important you are to your counterpart. If you are young and inexperienced, you may have to accept a lesser role, but you should know how you are perceived. There are professional negotiators in business who love to work deals until they can extract every possible point from their opponent. They will basically give up nothing from their position. If you run into this type of person, you may need to get assistance from your organization's chief negotiator.
On the other hand, don't be paranoid. Not everyone is out to ruin you in a deal. There is a fine balance. Your impressions count but also look for concessions that have been offered. If there are real possibilities of future arrangements, you may be setting up a strong, lasting business relationship. If your counterpart offers advice to you, listen carefully. When you are young and in business, you need such advice. Be ready to accept. Treat your counterparts as sources of knowledge and future business for the company.
Of course, in real business negotiations, you are not likely to experience situations where the room, furniture and host's attitude is wholly stacked against you. Most business deals are fairly amicable and professional. Still, there are negotiating sharks out there so you should be a little wary. Getting to know what your counterpart is like is a great way for you to start all of your future negotiating sessions.
When you spend a little time listing some interests that your counterpart may have, you can gain an understanding of their position. What happens if you can't make a deal? It may be a serious consequence for your counterpart. If you do make a deal, you will be able to improve the business for both of you. Perhaps a failure to negotiate would be an adverse outcome for everyone involved. Get these issues down and be ready to bring them out as necessary. It is one of the good practices that skilled negotiators use all of the time.