According to a recent survey, 51% of Australians consider themselves to be good negotiators. While you may believe you have the skills you need to secure a good deal, what you may not realise is that the way you negotiate can play a significant role in building your reputation.

Establishing trust at the bargaining table is crucial if you want to create the type of reputation that makes others want to negotiate with you in the first place. Improving your negotiation skills can help your status, while still allowing you to reach an agreement that works for you.

Negotiations Leave a Lasting Impression

All negotiations involve risk, and no matter what negotiation style you use, it’s going to leave a lasting impression and go a long way in developing your reputation in the industry. It will leave an impact on future negotiations and whether or not people want to work with you. After all, poor negotiating skills can lose businesses a lot of money.

That’s why you want to make sure you make the right impression. Of course, learning how to be an effective negotiator can be a challenge for most people, and part of that may be down to a misconception of what makes a good negotiator.

The thing is, it’s not about beating the opposition; the most effective deals don’t end in a winner-loser result but are rather a win-win proposition for all parties. You want everyone to talk away thinking that the end result was a good one.

Improving Your Skills: Practice Makes Perfect

Now, no one said that finding a deal in which everyone is left happy is easy. It’s not a natural skill you are born with; to become an effective negotiator you have to practice and learn. Here are a few ways you can improve your negotiation skills:

Be Prepared

Don’t just rely on your negotiation skills to get you through a deal – do your research and learn to recognise the power of thorough preparation. Before you start the process, do your homework, so you don’t end up walking away from a beneficial agreement.

There are a few things you want to find out from your research, including identifying the best alternative to this negotiation for both sides, assessing what falls in the area of possible agreement, any objections that may arise, as well as any potential motivations that will resonate with your opponent.  

Any negotiation requires appropriate research, and the more talks you do, the better you become at doing your homework and the more prepared you are for the next one.

That’s why it’s worth practicing your skills if you don’t have a lot of experience at the moment or your skills need a little work. This may involve trying to get the best deal at your local flea market, taking classes on negotiations, trying to get a better deal with your car insurance provider, or participating in mock negotiations with a co-worker. All of these experiences will help to build your skills, knowledge, and confidence.

Build a Relationship

If you want to try and identify mutually desirable terms, then you need to get to know your opponent. It’s all about building a relationship with the other person first, making a connection with them, controlling the flow of the conversation with your questions, and thus collecting useful information that can be used to identify their interests, what motivates them, what they value in life, and what may annoy them.

You would be surprised at how much you can learn about someone’s position by having a genuine conversation with them and sometimes simply staying silent and allowing them to speak. Use what you learn as leverage to get a deal that works for you both.

Create an Atmosphere of Trust

To end up with a win-win scenario, it’s important to create an atmosphere of trust. This does not mean you have to always agree with your opponent’s demands, however, but granting early small wins can help to set a cooperative tone and build trust.

And when both parties trust each other? That’s when they are more likely to exchange sensitive information about their interests and needs. You just have to find a minor procedural point to concede on early on, which will allow your opponent to believe they have achieved a small victory. This could be allowing the other person to decide where to meet or what is on the agenda for today, and what could be put off until tomorrow.

Of course, staying true to your word is what will create long-lasting trust and help you build the type of reputation you want in your industry. So, forget about the image of the bold and brazen negotiator that is only focused on generating a win for themselves, and instead, focus on creating a win-win situation for both parties.