Effective communication skills give you an edge in negotiations, allowing you to succinctly outline your position, rationalize your perspective and refute arguments or points lobbied by the other side.
What Negotiations Are About
A negotiation is a back-and-forth debate over an issue or topic in which both parties are attempting to reach a mutually beneficial compromise. Negotiations involve give-and-take, but an individual who is able to outline a convincing position often has the upper hand and is capable of attaining the better side of the deal or agreement. Skills such as persuasive speaking and an ability to debate an issue and fully explain a position are beneficial to this process.d
Verbal negotiations may take place in a workplace environment during a job interview, salary discussions or in jockeying for a particular angle on a project. Good communication skills in these venues include the ability to articulate a position and a willingness to cede to others' viewpoints while simultaneously benefiting one's own position. This is accomplished through incorporating both listening skills and communication skills.
Example: “Peter, I hear and understand your desire to increase customer service levels by adding more phone representatives. However, the expense associated with this move would be better utilized in upgrading our online customer service portal, which would serve significantly more consumers.”
Negotiations conducted in written form can be more thought-out, as time can be put into reviewing and revising written statements before submitting them. For example, real estate negotiations that go back and forth on price points can be articulated in writing by providing detail paired with specific evidence.
Example: “My client is requesting the asking price be lowered by $10,000 to accommodate structural repairs to the garage. Attached is an estimate from a local contracting firm that indicates repairs are in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000.”
Interpersonal Communication Skills
In negotiations, it's not always about what you say, but how you say it. Negotiations entered into with an air of compromise can set the other party at ease. Knowing in advance what you're willing to concede and structuring it in such a way that it comes across as a win for the other side can help achieve the desired outcome. For instance, if you're negotiating the price of a janitorial service cleaning your offices and you aren’t concerned about trash removal because you recycle, you can use this to your advantage in negotiations.
Example: “Would you be willing to reduce your estimate by 15 percent if we eliminate trash removal services from the package?”
Always appearing confident, collected and respectful during negotiations can help you convey a professional image, as well as help solidify your position.