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How Negotiation Skills Will Improve Your Life
When the concept of “negotiating” is brought up, it typically evokes images of highfalutin businessmen in perfectly pressed suits hashing out complex transactions in urban highrises. It’s a pretty snobby picture, and just the thought of it can leave a bad taste in most people’s mouths.
Nevertheless, the ability to negotiate is actually a valuable life skill that should be honed and developed by everyone, as it can serve you well in a variety of different situations.
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The Benefits of Negotiation Skills
Home economics class can equip you with valuable skills like cooking and sewing. This is true even if your professional ambitions have nothing to do with becoming a chef at a five-star restaurant or starting your own clothing line. In the same sense, negotiation skills provide a variety of essential benefits that can make all the difference in a myriad of different circumstances. For instance, knowing how to negotiate can:
Help you build confidence: Negotiating is an excellent confidence booster, as it helps you see your own value and the skills and talents that you bring to the table.
Ensure you’re getting a fair deal: Negotiating always involves seeing the value of a situation and looking for a balanced solution that benefits you as well as everyone else.
Find the middle ground: Negotiating naturally requires being able to empathize and see a situation from another person’s perspective.
Increase your ability to listen: Active listening is a critical life skill. Negotiating can help you hone the ability to hear and respond to others in a thoughtful manner.
Develop your interpersonal skills: Negotiating properly always requires inherent respect for the other parties involved as well as the ability to properly interact with them.
Hone your strategic planning: Complex negotiations can require things like research, planning, logistics, organization, and forecasting.
By learning to negotiate, you aren’t just developing a one-dimensional skill for work interactions. You’re cultivating a variety of talents and abilities that can serve you in many areas of life.
Areas Where Negotiation Skills Can Help
While the specific benefits of being able to negotiate are fairly easy to identify, it’s also helpful to see some of the tangible ways that it will help you throughout life. For instance, negotiating skills can enable you to:
Buy a home: A home purchase is fraught with additional fees, from closing costs to home inspections, down payments, and so on. Negotiating in real estate transactions can help you avoid as many unnecessary (and extremely expensive) costs as possible.
Make other big purchases: Avoiding inflated prices, taking advantage of sales, and getting the best bang for your buck are all benefits of being able to negotiate a big purchase, such as a car from a dealership or a computer off of Craigslist.
Land a good job: While negotiating is often considered a typical part of work activity, it can also help you get that work in the first place. The ability to sell yourself, find an agreeable salary, and figure out benefits and perks all require a negotiating flare.
Succeed at work: When you’re actually on the job, being able to negotiate can help you manage teams, ask for a raise, and conduct business, in general.
Get out of debt: Whether you’re consolidating debt or disputing something on a credit report, being able to negotiate is essential to long-term financial health.
Manage relationships: Finally, while relationships certainly should not be treated as “business as usual,” negotiation skills like the ability to see other’s perspectives and find compromise can help you manage and maintain relationships far into the future.
Regardless of the specific area of life that you’re looking at, negotiation skills are hardly a “professional-only affair.” While they can certainly help you land a good job and thrive at work, they can also impact everything from your finances and purchasing decisions to your personal relationships.
Developing Your Negotiation Skills
If you want to become a better negotiator, it’s important that you strive to understand how proper negotiations tend to play out. You shouldn’t simply go into each negotiation with a “shoot from the hip” mentality and then hope for the best. Instead, take the time to learn each of the six steps that come with a formal negotiation:
Prepare: Take the time to study, research, and organize yourself beforehand. Giving yourself time to prepare for a negotiation ensures that you have as thorough an understanding of the situation as possible as you start the discussion. It also enables you to have every resource available to find a satisfactory outcome for all parties involved — including yourself.
Discuss: Begin negotiating by allowing each side to discuss their stance. This is the phase in which opposing and differing perspectives should be “aired out” in order to help everyone understand the situation from a more holistic perspective.
Understand goals: The goals of each party should then be clearly delineated. What is the desired outcome or objective that each person is bringing to the table?
Find a win-win option: The discussion should then pursue finding a solution that is beneficial for both parties. Rather than digging in heels and getting defensive, the discussion should shift towards an emphasis on finding a solution that benefits everyone equally — or as close to equal as possible.
Come to an agreement: Both sides should then decide on which solution is best. At times, this will be quick and simple. However, if a win-win solution refuses to easily present itself or several win-win options are available, take time to find one answer that everyone agrees on.
Execute: The agreed-upon decision must then be put into action with the full backing and support of everyone involved.
By studying the stages of negotiation, you can provide yourself with a blueprint to use as you pursue developing your negotiation skills.
Negotiation is an art as much as a science. It requires a solid dose of logic and reasoning backed by the confidence to problem solve, brainstorm, and act creatively. As you practice your negotiation skills, remember that you’re not just improving a professional tool. You’re also equipping yourself with a tactic that can serve you well in nearly every area of your life.
About the Author
Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.