Negotiation Skills


The obvious functional areas of Buying and Selling are not the only scenarios within which Effective Negotiation Skills are required, with the ability to communicate and influence being vital, not just in the workplace, but also at home and in our social life.

The system that is proposed, demonstrated and practiced in this course is based on the concept of Principled Negotiation – a vital approach when more and more companies rely on the cooperation and understanding of an extended value chain of diverse suppliers of parts and services.

Whilst the detail here, and to an extent much of the content, needs to be industry or company-specific, the theoretical base is constant and introduces specialist approaches and materials as necessary.

Duration: 2 Days
Participants: 6-18
(for more than 12 participants, 2 trainers are recommended)

This is essential to create a ‘safe’ atmosphere conducive to constructive feedback. Whilst the participants may indeed work together and feel that they therefore know each other, some attitudes and personality dimensions usually emerge here that result in a bonding of the group and more effective delivery. This segment also allows the trainer to gauge the language level, and communication abilities of the participants.

The Customisation process is enabled by each participant explaining who they negotiate with, the key areas of their negotiations such as price, delivery, quality etc and the language(s) and culture(s) involved. The key issues are then noted on a flipchart for reference during the course and form a ‘Wish List’ which is then referred back to at the end of the programme to check that participants’ needs have been met.

Relevant key concepts are defined and discussed, particularly the benefits of Principled Negotiation in maintaining ongoing industry relationships. The differences between Bargaining, Influencing and Negotiating are also defined. For many organizations it is beneficial at this stage to develop a company ‘personality’ profile to illustrate the corporate image and strength that sits behind the individual negotiator and to show the strength of this to the participants in a negotiating situation.

The link is made to childish negotiating ploys and through eliciting participants’ own experiences, either as parents or children, the effectiveness of these is discussed and demonstrated. Many of those techniques are quite sophisticated, even in the hands of a 3-year old, and a surprising number survive into the business world, so methods of identifying and countering these are covered.

No, not yet another discussion on Global Warming, but rather an examination of how the ‘temperature’ of a negotiation can be set through the level of formality for example. The Environmental aspects include the layout of the negotiating arena, such as furniture and lighting. All these can be controlled to advantage if the various impacts are understood.

The first step in negotiation is not to speak, but rather to listen effectively, picking up valuable clues. Should participants have already completed the Presentation Skills course, the issues of Eye Contact, Questioning, Mirroring etc are just touched upon as revision and their relevance in the context of Principled Negotiation discussed. Should this be a first-time contact, then the process is explained in more detail and practiced.

In preparing for negotiation it is useful to consider how both the participants and their business partners collect and process information. If cooperation is to be achieved then the learning methods of each side should be addressed and met. However, advantage can sometimes be obtained through withdrawing or limiting these. A short test may be administered to provide data to focus the discussion.

Successful negotiators understand both themselves and their partners and application of this simple psychological tool can yield much useful data about both sides. Public, Private and Blind sides are examined for clues and suitable applications suggested.

If not already employed as the Icebreaker component of the course, this technique of self-analysis allows participants to describe their negotiating style prior to engaging in the role-play which follows.

A chance to practice some of the techniques already learned is provided here through a structured pair activity involving a buy/sell scenario. Outcomes are then analysed and discussed and the validity of the individual Indian Names chosen is established based on technique, attitude and performance. In particular, this activity usually establishes the need for principled and cooperative negotiation and the scenario is re-visited for discussion when reviewing other areas of theory later in the course.

Even experienced negotiators appreciate the introduction of some structural theory which often provides validation and underpinning for their techniques. Some additional theory is added at this stage, referring in part to the scenario case and outcome. The PIN triangle is proposed as a means for reaching a mutually satisfactory conclusion, a form of questioning is introduced to determine real motivations, and an examination of the effectiveness of 5 common negotiating styles is made.

This proven process leading to Principled Negotiation involves seven steps towards achieving that important ‘Win-win’. Key amongst these are the ideas of finding out what partners really want, how far negotiators are safe to go in meeting those needs, and how to present the options to maximize the chances of agreement.

Dependent on the English language skills of the group, this element may be included in order to focus on the use and understanding of phrases to facilitate negotiation. For example, the application of the Conditional tense in order to test ideas and the softening or hardening of positions through qualifying or mitigating language. An excellent way of avoiding confrontation is through the correct application of the Passive and this is demonstrated through a short scenario.

Participants are helped to recognise 4 classifications of buying/selling styles in order to aid them in preparing for negotiations, Usually participants can relate these both to themselves and also to their partners and this familiarity, although not always clear-cut, provides the comfort of rendering potentially unknown situations a little more familiar.

For those participants who have not previously encountered this concept which features strongly in the Presentation Skills course and Cross-cultural Workshop, a full description of the process and its relevance is provided. For others, this will be a form of revision and an important new means of application of a proven communications theory.

Depending on the needs of the group, a range of in-negotiation ploys are described, specifically in order that participants can recognize when the methodology is being used against them – Repackaging, the Mother Hubbard and the Salami technique are featured here amongst others.

Using industry or company-relevant scenarios created by the participants, pairs are observed in typical negotiating situations and objective peer feedback is provided based on the concepts and structures presented in the course.

This element serves as a revision of the key topics covered and since the ‘Wish List’ is re-visited, it is possible to check that participants’ needs have been met.