How to be a Good Negotiator

How to be a Good Negotiator

Last update: 07 August, 2019

In some ways, we are especially prepared for the art of being a good negotiator. Most children are already relentless negotiators. They know their cards. They know that they have the possibility of satisfying the desires of others (for example, behaving well) and do not hesitate to play those cards in exchange for what they want.

To be a good negotiator requires a series of skills and managing them properly. Among these, trust, assertiveness, flexibility or good disposition are especially useful. But there are many more. And the good news is that you can train yourself to have them!

Learning and experience for being a good negotiator

A negotiator’s main management tools are essentially two: courage and integrity. Thanks to them, we can defend our conviction for our interests or values, and at the same time we can be eloquent and clever. For this reason, if you are going to negotiate something, it is a good idea for you to know that there are certain strategies that can help you, especially if you choose the right moment to use them.

As we have said, even as children we had potential. For example, when we asked our parents to read us another story or get a few more minutes of back rubs before bed. Our parents are our first rivals, because without us even knowing, we are already negotiating.

We develop these skills thanks to experience, perseverance, practice and learning.

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How our brain acts during the process

When we face a negotiation, it’s normal that in the beginning, we activate our prefrontal cortex and experience some nervousness. Then, if we believe that we will not be able to handle the situation, our amygdala causes us to experience fear.

To overcome any panic, it is best to anticipate the situation, to plan and prepare beforehand. For example, we should have a clear idea of ​​what our objective is, how we should proceed, and gather as much information as possible. It is also good to know some tricks, such as opening a negotiation over amounts using the “anchoring effect“.

Next, our brain activity is concentrated in our mirror neurons. These help us to try to empathize with the person in front of us, creating a climate of understanding and trust. We look for any signal for how the person we talk with feels or will act. We adapt to their mood and act accordingly. At this point, communication skills are essential.

The importance of what is not said

At some point in the negotiation we can reach or approach a point of no return. But before throwing in the towel, it is a good idea for us to use all the tools that we have at our disposal, verbal and non-verbal. Gestures are just as crucial as words. For example, if we notice that they frown at any of our proposals, frequently change their position, do not maintain eye contact or are sticking to their guns too much, it will be better to change the way we proceed.

There are two key moments where we need to pay extra attention: greetings and good-byes. The best handshake is a vertical up and down movement, without twisting the palm or exaggerating motions. To close deals, you can use your left hand to lightly touch the other person’s arm, as it transmits intimacy.

The brain does not want a tie, it wants to win

If after completing the process, both parties benefit, the brain may not feel satisfied. In these cases, our mind does not think about win-win situations, but only two options: win or lose. Success is not measured in terms of profit, but in its degree of conscious satisfaction.

There are other types of negotiations in which we seek mutual agreement. In this sense, the two negotiators know that if one of the two parties is not satisfied, it will not take long to break the agreement. so if we are one of these parties and capable negotiators, we will not only try to take care of or protect our interests, but we will also try make sure that that the other party sees the result as positive.

On the other hand, if we evaluate the negotiation’s result as positive, our reward circuit is set in motion. When activated, our body releases neurotransmitters responsible for pleasure, such as dopamine and oxytocin. But if we believe ourselves to be unsuccessful, neurotransmitters like adrenaline associated with a threat are released. This is why we feel angry, disappointed or downcast.


Emotions’ role

Many specialists point out that in order to be a good negotiator it is necessary to set aside emotions and opt for objectivity. This is the basis of game theory. It advocates a cold and sterile process, in which everyone involved is totally rational.

But this is something very difficult to achieve if we take into account that we are people and, as such, emotions are part of us. Feelings almost inevitably influence a negotiation and it is a good idea to know how to dominate them so that they do not play tricks on us.

Good management of emotional intelligence and the ability to self-criticize are essential to be a good negotiator. Thanks to them, we will be able to understand a defeat, analyze its reason, learn from it, and better face a future negotiation.


Simple strategies to be a good negotiator

Here is a summary of skills that a good negotiator should have in order for their negotiation to be an art form.

  • Listen actively: don’t just hear, but pay full and complete attention to the other person.
  • Assertiveness: make your point of view known and, at the same time, respect the rights and beliefs of others.
  • Self-confidence: be brave and upright. If you are unsure, your position will be defensive.
  • Balance: give and expect something in return. It is a negotiation, not a charitable act.
  • Optimism: your willingness to negotiate, listen to proposals and adopt changes brings you good results.
  • Empathy: patience and delicacy help temper your spirits if at some point you feel cornered.

To be a good negotiator, the key is to know how to use your brain and follow neuroscience’s advice. There we have all types of personalities, but the crux of success is knowing how to find the exact dose of emotion and reason.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.