Negotiation Skills - Source: Michigan Municipal League, Flickr.com

Why you need to brush up your negotiation skills

Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. – Morihei Ueshiba

I

n the business environment, you don’t always get what you merit but what you bargain for.
 
Every project manager must deal with restricted resources on a daily basis so it is important that you manage constraints and do whatever’s necessary to survive. Sound negotiation skills are not just aimed at professionals arguing for major contracts; project managers should want to increase their skills too; and for this to happen they must learn and master the basic principles of a negotiation.
 
In general decisions are anchored in merit, and the goal of a negotiation is to attain a win-win agreement.
 
Collaborating with people may have more benefits than arguing. Sharing common interests and goals develop a partnership, thus increasing your chances of a professional tie in the future.

Negotiation – a priceless skill

 
For a project manager negotiation is a priceless skill. He will be compelled to bargain agreements with contractors and vendors, and to reach a favorable deal it is fundamental to have sound bargaining abilities. The business environment can be extremely competitive, and if you can’t make yourself noticed, opponents won’t remember you. How can you expect customers, team members and stakeholders to listen to what you have to say if you can’t tie two words together?
 
For project managers to have an audience’s undivided attention they must find a way to boost engagement. Assess your negotiation style and diffuse conflicting situations; use opponents’ weaknesses to your advantage, but make sure you don’t turn to unethical skills to win.
 
The basic steps of an upright business negotiation are:


  1. Don’t take things personal and separate the parties involved from the problem. A negotiation should be seen as an opportunity to fix an issue. Opponents should be willing help find a solution too.
  2. Don’t focus your attention on positions but rather on interests. Instead of arguing about who’s in the best position to hold the resource, you should focus more on the needs and wants of the other party. Make an attempt to understand what they’re trying to accomplish.
  3. Have more options. Brainstorm collectively and come up with more than one option to a current issue. Put your creative spirit to work and figure out how to reach common ground.
Negotiation Skills - Source: Michigan Municipal League, Flickr.com

Source: Michigan Municipal League, Flickr.com

Master your BATNA

 
Before a negotiation, project managers should protect themselves from unforeseen situations, especially when an opponent has the upper hand.
Master your BATNA; the goal of a negotiation is to fabricate something better than a result obtained without undergoing negotiation. Having a best alternative to a negotiated agreement is more like a safe net to hold on to in case things don’t go as planned.
 
Always keep in mind that in business everything’s negotiate. Project managers have responsibilities and they can’t afford to lose customers or sponsors. Practice makes perfect, so in order to land the best deal and master negotiations, you might just have to slip up a couple of times.

Brush up negotiation skills to attain success

 
Being in charge of a project is a huge responsibility. The decisions that you make together with your team can have a great impact on your whole career. If your negotiation skills are bad you won’t be able to control your team; your hard work might go down the drain. Listen to the needs and wants of your peers, and work together to reach an agreement.
 
Learn to control your body language and under no means showcase a shy attitude. Opponents don’t want to bargain with indecisive people; they need someone tough, self-determined and confident. It’s almost impossible to be a project manager and not have excellent communication skills. The job itself involves managing a team and making sure that everything goes by the book.
 

Negotiation Skills - Source: DFATD | MAECD, Flickr.com

Source: DFATD | MAECD, Flickr.com

Active listening is equally important in this industry. Project managers should listen to their subordinates; they should have the ability to spot issues and do whatever’s necessary to solve them. Keeping a team glued together is essential in the business environment. The more engaged your people are the better chances you have to bargain successfully with investors and suppliers. Aim at building a relationship and go for a win-win in order to score a profitable deal for you, your team and your company.
 

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