Negotiation is a fundamental part of our working lives. Whether it’s haggling with a supplier over a service level agreement, negotiating over price with a new client or discussing a contract with an employee, the process of negotiation is almost a daily task. But are you getting the best deal out of your negotiations? In this article, we look at some of the attributes you need to display in your approach to negotiation so that both parties are satisfied with the outcome.

Honesty

This is perhaps the most important attribute: be honest about what you want. Honesty helps to breed trust which is an important part of the negotiation process. Being honest means that each party is clear about where exactly the other party is at. It also means that you are not wasting time pussyfooting around each other.

So for example, you are negotiating with a new supplier. You are willing to pay $500 per month for their service. If they want to sell their service for $500 per month then the deal is done and you’ve saved a lot of time in going backwards and forwards. If, however, the supplier is only willing to sell their services for $700 per month and that is uneconomic for you, then you should be honest about what your bottom line is.

Being truthful from the outset makes it easier for everyone to win.

Empathy  

Sometimes it’s necessary to take a hit in the interests of the long-term relationship.  It’s tempting when negotiating to want to take the other side for all that you can. Being overly aggressive though will damage any prospect of a long-term relationship. Both sides need to feel satisfied with the outcome so try and display some empathy and understanding of the other party’s position. Sometimes a certain amount of compromise is a necessary trade-off in sustaining an important relationship.

Speed

This is an often overlooked attribute. It’s amazing how many of us get bogged down when negotiating with dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s in an attempt to get the ideal agreement. Speeding up the process will ensure that you close the deal before there is a chance of the arrangement breaking down on some minutia or unimportant detail. Procrastinate or demonstrate inflexibility and you risk losing the deal altogether as well as wasting a great deal of time and energy along the way. Try to keep sight of the bigger picture and close the deal as soon as is reasonable.

The most effective negotiators as those that display speed, honesty and empathy. Mutually beneficial agreements are what’s important. These will ensure that the relationships which are the foundation of your business are sustainable in the long run.