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Negotiation Skills

Negotiating Skills: Take It or Leave It!

One of the most common problems in any kind of negotiation tends to occur at very early stages. This is when one or both parties enter a negotiation with a generally negative attitude. In such a climate, negotiations often deteriorate into semi-hostile, point-scoring situations.

Whether a negotiation session is formal or informal, or short vs. long, a calm, measured and positive frame of mind is always needed. This may mean that you need to open all discussions with small-talk, topic areas, and even light or inoffensive humor, using a quiet and gentle style.

As the negotiation unfolds, people’s natural and deliberately adopted communication “styles” or tactical methods of bargaining may vary quite considerably and we are well-served to be aware of the different approaches that we may encounter, or that we may employ ourselves, in the right circumstances.

There are four communication styles used in negotiating. These are the styles of “Pushy Bullying”, “Quietly Manipulating”, “Carefully Suggesting”, and finally “Confident Promoting”, all of which use different amounts of energy and empathy in the discussions. Most effective negotiators are likely to make the most use of the “Confident Promoting” style followed by “Carefully Suggesting” to be most successful. But in actual fact, there are pros and cons to all four styles, and it is worth taking the time to explore the use of each of them in detail.

Once we understand the different communication styles that we can deploy or which may be used by the other party, we can usually quite safely engage in trading behavior (which can usually be entered into quite easily by both parties without the process becoming one-sided or manipulative). The “If-then” sentence stem is typically the best approach to use when negotiating in general because it ensures that an offer is always made with a conditional response coming from the other side. For example, one party might say “if I agree to an extra 2 weeks to complete the project, will you agree to reassign two of your people to the new project by next Monday?”

It is important to remember when you are engaged in trading or bargaining activity that every concession you make should be portrayed or at least seen to be valuable, even if it appears to be trivial or completely unimportant to you. This is simply because even an apparently minor item may have huge value to the other party and may actually win a much greater concession from them.

The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Negotiating Skills Video Vignette Set.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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