• 52°

Negotiation skills are advantageous in life

Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding argument and dispute. Good negotiation skills are of great benefit in resolving any differences that arise in personal and professional situations.

In the business world meetings are often held where all parties involved can speak, air out their differences and come together. Simple conversations between individuals happen regularly and are useful for settling differences. No one likes controversy or confrontation but it happens when decisions need to be made.

The process of negotiation includes the following.

1. Preparation —Setting meeting, location, attendees, agenda.

2. Discussion — Questioning, listening, clarifying.

3. Clarification of goals — Setting goals, identifying interests and viewpoints.

4. Working toward a “win-win” outcome — Both sides need to feel their points of view are heard, understood and considered.

5. Agreement — Maintain an open mind in order to achieve an acceptable solution.

6. Implementation of a course of action — An action plan should be developed and implemented to carry out any decision made.

Sometimes negotiation can break down and the parties involved fail to reach a conclusion or solution. A follow-up meeting may be needed. All parties should be open and committed to reach a compromise and avoid wasting time or taking actions that will result in damaged relationships. Meetings are not always the best approach.  A more informal process may be called for. Regardless of which process is utilized the participants’ attitudes are crucial. Those who have a “chip on their shoulder” or a predetermined personal agenda will sabotage any effort of successful negotiation. This is not the place for forcing personal or individual goals or for defensiveness. Good interpersonal skills are needed by all. Knowledge of all the issues in question will allow for greater participation of those involved.  Good listening skills will reduce misunderstandings and build rapport.

The ability to negotiate requires a collection of interpersonal and communication skills. Skills include methods of communication, art of persuasion, influencing, explaining, planning, strategizing, and employing tactics, techniques, tool-sets, systems and processes. These are drawn from various disciplines and work more positively through teamwork. They can be used to bring about a desired result, beneficial to all parties involved. Give-and-take is essential. Knowing the right questions to ask will increase effectiveness. Hammering out differences to arrive at an agreement satisfactory to all is the goal.

People bring differing styles of negotiation to the table so understanding the varying styles is important. A leader should possess the ability to seek out a variety of solutions to problems. Instead of focusing on one person’s goal, getting all sides of the issue out and involving all parties will set the atmosphere in a positive way. Adhering to ethical standards will promote a trusting environment. Following the negotiation process, it is important to execute on the decisions made once the bargaining has concluded. These abilities can be developed over time through education, coaching, practice and practical experience.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.