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Idea Box: Negotiating Is a Skill that Must Be Developed
How to Be a Better Negotiator

By Staff
Date Posted: 5/3/2018

Do you consider yourself to be a good negotiator? A small number of people will say that they are good negotiators. The majority of people, even very successful people, will say they aren’t very good negotiators and really don’t like to do it. 

Negotiating is actually a learned skill, and you might want to make the effort to learn more about the mechanics of negotiation and improve this important skill for the benefit of your pallet or lumber business.

Negotiation is simply the process of coming to an agreement between two parties. Because what each party wants from the agreement often doesn’t completely align, negotiating is the process of getting closer to the outcome you would like to achieve. 


How to Improve Your Negotiating Skills

Here are some general guidelines to be aware of if you would like to improve your negotiating skills.

• Prepare for negotiation – Do your homework and know what you really want and why it is reasonable and fair. You can then clearly explain your position and justify it.  You should also know what your bottom line is too. What’s the least you are willing to agree to and still be ok in terms of price, profit and other terms.

• Decide on what basis you will negotiate – What will be your core approach to the negotiation? You may determine that value and price or delivery time is the best approach, for instance. This core approach is ideally something you know will make an impact. For example, it doesn’t do much good to negotiate based on quality, when the other party only cares about price.

• Become aware of your negotiation style and change or improve if necessary – How do you negotiate? Are you very aggressive or too mild? Attempt to find a happy middle ground that could produce better outcomes. This assumes your negotiating style hasn’t been working very well, and you are coming out on the losing end too often or consistently fail to reach agreements because you’re too aggressive.

• Ask questions, listen, pay attention to body language or “tells” – Simply asking some questions can make a big difference. When did you need this completed? What’s the project goal? What’s the budget? Who else do you work with? Asking a few questions and listening carefully to the answers can help you understand what the other party’s motivation is and make it easier to possibly give them what they want while protecting your own interests. If you are aware of how the game of poker is played, you know that good poker players learn how to observe their opponents to better play their hand. The same concept can apply when negotiating. By watching the other person carefully, you may be able to observe a “tell” that lets you know what direction the negotiation is going and how you can adapt your position to improve the outcome.

• Learn or discover some negotiating techniques or tactics – Learning some effective tactics can be very helpful in achieving a good outcome. There are lot of negotiating tactics. The most common tactic is to avoid making the first offer. Let the other party make the first offer, and it just may be all you want and more. There are lots of books and training options out there on the art and science of negotiation. Utilize these resources to sharpen your knowledge and skills.

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