Whether it’s signing a new business deal or hiring a new employee, negotiation is an imperative skill anyone needs to maximize their personal or corporate benefit. Although it might seem like a highly competitive process, a successful negotiation can be mutually beneficial. A negotiation can lead to the development and maintenance of sustainable relationships with stakeholders, which is key to any lucrative business.

Step 1: Understanding Opposing Grounds

Before stepping into a negotiation battle, research is crucial and will equip you with a strategy. Understanding the core reasoning for your opponent’s position can help you find a solution that allows both parties to walk away winners.

During the preliminary round of negotiation, it is important to listen and comprehend the opposing party’s key issues and limitations. By doing so, you will be able to identify their grounds on flexibility on which you might be able to build your bargaining chips. Always be sure to keep emotions out of the equation. The key is to objectively look at the problem instead of engaging in a heated argument that can cause tension and build defensiveness. Here is where good communication skills come into play. Make sure to paraphrase in order to confirm your understanding, and ask questions that can help you to gather more information.

Step 2: Finding a Common Ground

Now that you have identified what is important to your counterpart, practice empathy. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you might act. Empathy is part of effective communication and can help you to predict the offer your opposing party might make so you can always be a step ahead. Expressing empathy to your counterpart can also help you to build rapport, which will help in the overall outcome. 

Sometimes negotiations become time-consuming when both parties are unable to capitalize on major issues to gain what they want. As such, it is time to break down the problem into smaller parts and identify elements that you might value less compared to your counterpart. This is so that you can propose a concession in exchange for something you might value highly. A strategy could be to propose a combination of multiple solutions to show your willingness to find common ground. This decreases your odds of rejection and can allow for more innovative solutions towards problem-solving.

Step 3: Navigating the Final Outcome

In negotiations where you are confident about your value to your opponent, your best persuasive power is making known your ability to walk away from the deal. Of course, this would be the final resort; before then, you will need to set your boundaries very clearly. This includes speculating on the best outcome, identifying your bottom line, and having an alternative solution in mind. With this, you will be able to know when to cease negotiations if it becomes futile or counterproductive.

In business–or life–you don’t get what you deserve, but what you negotiate. Follow these steps to hone one of the most important skills you will ever need to be successful.