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What you need to know before a negotiation

Posted on September 21, 2016

By Emily McCutcheon

Negotiation skills may not always appear on a job description, but having them will help you in almost any role. To be an effective leader you need to be able to balance analytical skills with a broad array of decision making and interpersonal skills. This is no easy task. So how do great leaders build or develop their negotiations skills so they can add value to any situation? They practice.

There’s no better way to learn about negotiation than with an experiential, hands-on approach. Models, concepts and theories are helpful, but sitting down face to face with another person (or group of people) will help you truly develop your toolkit.

Senior managers, directors, and executives will face a variety of different types of negotiations during their careers—some significantly more complex than others. The most important thing to do before entering a negotiation is to do your homework. Ask yourself these questions:


Where is the value?
Putting a dollar amount on an item in a negotiation can be helpful, but there are  other kinds of value. Is it valuable because of time or its impact on other resources? Studying examples of existing negotiations to see where different sides placed value can give you a greater level of insight into both your own position and that of the other party.

What are your goals?
You can’t negotiate if you don’t know what you’re hoping to get out of it. What is your ideal outcome? What are your must haves versus your nice to haves? Aside from the deal you hammer out together, there are other, less concrete elements that might also factor into your bargaining, such as your relationship with the other party. And speaking of that relationship…

What kind of relationship do you have with the other party?
A negotiation that is based on mutual trust will go better for everyone involved. It’s important to establish trust at the onset. Often this can involve agreeing to a fair process regardless of the outcome. Take a close look at your existing relationship with the other party, but don’t forget to do a careful self-assessment, as well. Personality, ethics, culture, even your willingness to use particular strategies can impact your negotiations. If you’re working with a team, are you all on the same page? How will your team react to strategies used by the other party?

Great negotiators have the skills to get the deal done, but they also know how to evaluate the success of a negotiation after the fact, how to lead a negotiation team effectively, and how to create value for their organization.

And those skills are important in any leadership role. By practicing negotiation, you can improve your communication and persuasion skills and learn how to wield more influence in other situations.

Rotman’s Advanced Negotiations program is led by expert faculty and is designed to provide you with a safe but challenging environment where you can develop your negotiation skills alongside other senior professionals.

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Speak to our expert Learning Advisor about choosing the right program for you or your organization.