You can find countless online articles giving tips on how to negotiate more effectively, but most of them have one thing in common: they’re almost all about talking. While talking is important to be an effective communicator, listening is one of the most critical and underappreciated of negotiation skills.
A failure to listen carefully enough on both sides of the negotiation table is a widespread problem in business negotiations, as each person focuses on their own position. Being more aware of where a supplier or client is coming from is a great negotiation strategy that will pay off in almost every deal.
Seeing Both Sides
Most businesspeople enter negotiations thinking almost exclusively of themselves and think of the other side’s circumstances only insofar as they affect a potential deal. As we’ll see, this is a major error that keeps you from being effective. Considering the situation from your client or supplier’s perspective is a vital negotiation skill.
The critical thing to realize is simply that both sides of any negotiation believe that they’re correct. The person at the other side of the table isn’t just describing their needs to get more concessions from you – their considerations are every bit as important to them as yours are to you and your business.
Being a Better Listener
We’ve established the importance of increasing your awareness of the reciprocity involved in any negotiation. The next step is understanding how you can improve your own listening skills and apply this knowledge in real-life scenarios. While listening is a complicated task, there are a few easy ways to improve your negotiation skills through enhanced listening.
Much of listening is simply paying conscious attention to what each person is saying. Write down their key points and consider how it could be possible to address their needs. It’s smart to show other negotiators that you’re invested in what they’re saying by asking questions and giving them your undivided attention.
Even if you don’t agree with their arguments, or if they have desires you simply can’t meet, be careful not to act dismissively when talking about their views. By acknowledging their position and showing that you empathize with them, you demonstrate that you’re truly interested in finding a mutually beneficial solution.
Whether you’re on the buy or sell side of your negotiations, you understandably have a lot to communicate to each supplier or client. If you fail to exercise your listening skills when they’re speaking, you’ll miss out on half of the information involved, which could be critical to reaching an agreement. Veteran skilled negotiators have a saying: two ears, one mouth, use them in this ratio.
Author Bio: Specialists in the corporate business negotiation market, The Negotiation Experts offer instructive advice on their site via articles, Q&A’s, book reviews, case studies, and negotiating definitions.