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If you wonder how negotiation rules and scenarios of 2021 may differ from previous years, just look around. The pandemic has brought economies to a screeching halt with sporadic splashes of activity now and then, disrupted supply chains, and turned upside down whole industries. That’s not to mention the personal stress and losses the pandemic brought to people. The reverberations of it all will be perceived long afterward.
In a nutshell, it means that soft skills and a more careful approach to communication and decision-making are a must in the talks today. You do not know what may work as a trigger for a sudden confrontation, and what personal or other non-business factors may impact the decision-making of the other party.
So now it’s not the best time for hard talks and ‘good cop, bad cop games.’ They may end up unexpectedly, and not to your benefit. Instead, consider the following soft skills that will carry you through the trickiest of the talks and will let you win allies in every deal you make.
Yes, that’s obvious. We are all humans, so don’t enter the negotiations viewing the other party as enemies. They have their feelings, dignity, and reasons. So have you. Base your approach on this simple premise. Their reasons are as valid as yours (if they do not ask for obviously ridiculous concessions), their desires are as important as yours. It does not mean that you need to give in and let them have it all. It just means that you have to show that you take their demands seriously and ponder over them. It also means showing basic respect to them as negotiators and humans.
We smoothly transition to civility as the clear signal that you treat your opponents as capable actors. Keep your language and manners polite. Cold treatment or back-slapping is out of the question. No matter how indignant or angry you are, make your language civil and your suggestions reasonable.
Precarious local situations and global instability make long-term decisions questionable. The other party may put forward the offer in good faith and then take back their words because the situation really changed. Mind that. You need to be more adaptable and flexible than ever. Like, you need to be ready that the conditions will change because of an emergency, and you’ll need to have a plan B or be able to devise this plan with the other party on the go. If some particular condition suddenly becomes a must for them, will you be able to build a workaround?
Communication and Art of Asking Right Questions
In this light, communication becomes important like never before. Only careful explanations and active listening can help you make sense of the situation and reach a deal. Listen, process what is said, and talk based on the information you got. Then repeat.
You can’t run the talks if you do not know how to persuade. It’s a whole art, and you need to master and be sure that your team acts on the same playbook as you.
Since you will most probably negotiate as a team, you need cohesiveness and accord in your ranks. You all need to stick to a previously agreed line of negotiation. Teamwork means covering each other’s backs when the other party attacks from the flanks. It’s unacceptable when one team member runs their own politics and acts to the damage of team achievements.
It all takes patience and emotional control, that’s the secret. It’s hard to say how this skill can be mastered, but after a few botched negotiations, you either gain patience through painful experience or stop negotiating altogether. If you read these lines, then you probably do negotiate on a regular basis, so you have it in you.
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