February 10, 2022
Negotiation is the simple act of making a decision with another person, where each of us has something to gain or lose. We negotiate every day, and our ability to do so effectively affects our wallets, our relationships, and our happiness. Negotiation is anything but a “soft” skill – it’s essential for a successful career and life.
Even though negotiation skills are so important to our well-being, few people receive formal instruction about how to negotiate effectively. We piece together what we saw our parents, our bosses, or T.V. and movie characters do. We read books and articles, hoping we’ll remember to implement the advice when we’re in the moment. Maybe we take a sales training or a salary negotiation workshop to prepare for the negotiations we view as particularly important.
Research shows a “significant association” between spending time in a negotiation workshop and improving negotiation performance, and investing in negotiation training can have a “demonstrable effect” on a person’s behaviors and their business goals. Workshops that provide a strategic framework and provide opportunities to practice new skills in a low-risk learning environment show the greatest positive impact.
What benefits can you expect to gain from a negotiation training?
Whether you are negotiating a multi-million dollar deal or your kid’s bedtime, effective negotiators utilize a similar framework for success. This framework allows negotiators to strategically – and efficiently – prepare for their negotiations. Good preparation ensures that you approach your negotiations with confidence, clear communication, and a deeper understanding of what success means to you.
An effective negotiation training not only introduces a negotiation framework and preparation tools, but it also provides an opportunity to refine your understanding of key concepts and your skills through practice. By the end of the workshop, you will create a practical plan for incorporating preparation into your upcoming negotiations. In post-workshop surveys, MWI’s negotiation training clients consistently state that learning to prepare strategically was the most important skill they learned, and they saw immediate value using the preparation tools in their real-life negotiations.
Research shows that people skilled in active listening and asking effective questions have more success advocating for their perspective, maximizing value, and building key relationships. Effective negotiators rely on active listening skills to learn more about their counterpart’s interests and to clearly communicate their own. Through this process, they can identify solutions that maximize value for each side in the negotiation.
Our active listening abilities are not static – it is a skill that can be improved, and it needs to be practiced in order to stay sharp. Negotiation training delves into why these skills are effective and helps you overcome common barriers to effective implementation. Perhaps more importantly, you have a chance to practice in tough scenarios with guidance and suggestions for improvement from a negotiation trainer. Humans are notoriously bad at assessing their own listening skills, so even good listeners benefit immensely from getting immediate, expert feedback.
All negotiators, no matter their skill, will experience barriers and impasse as they work towards their goals. In fact, good negotiators plan for these challenges and have tools to remain calm, strategic, and effective.
One challenge all negotiators face is how to say “no” and how to deal with someone saying “no” to you. While we can read about best practices, our response to saying and hearing “no” is personal, so an effective approach will differ based upon each person’s unique reaction.
In a negotiation training, you have an opportunity to discuss your unique, personal challenges in order to receive unique, personal strategies and skills to deal with those challenges. In preparation for MWI’s Negotiation Skills Workshop, our trainers ask participants to share one aspect of negotiation they find challenging. Participants discuss their responses at the outset of the training, and their personal challenges and goals are revisited throughout the course. By the end of the training, each participant is able to articulate the skills and tools they can use to overcome the challenge they presented, and they have a plan to implement those skills and tools successfully.
Good negotiators know that not every negotiation ends in agreement. In fact, sometimes the most effective thing a negotiator can do is walk away from a deal. Deciding when to walk away from a negotiation – and if so, how – causes anxiety and uncertainty in many people, though. We struggle to balance our desire to get a good deal with our fear of hurting relationships or sunken costs.
Using a proven framework, negotiation training teaches you to define success beyond getting a deal, being “tough” on the other person, or “winning.” With this principled definition of success, you have a better framework for analyzing whether you should accept or walk away from a proposed negotiated agreement. You will also gain tools for keeping the conversation open if you want to make a deal, or if you want to walk away, to do so in a way that protects the relationship.
When asked what trainees hope to gain from negotiation training, one of the most common responses we receive is “confidence.” This is a great goal, because the way we frame and approach our negotiations has a measurable impact on our negotiation outcomes.
Unlike other negotiation skills, there’s no simple framework for increasing confidence. Some people can show up prepared and practiced, but they still lack confidence in their ability to negotiate effectively. Luckily, just like other negotiation skills, confidence can be learned and earned. Trainers explicitly discuss why participants still lack confidence, helping them understand the root of their anxiety and coming up with ways to tackle those stressors. And by applying skills and tools throughout a negotiation training, participants see their progress and success in action.
In a post-training survey of over 100 MWI trainees, almost every single respondent cited that they felt more confident as a negotiator after completing the negotiation training (all others reported the same high level of confidence they started with). It’s hard to develop confidence without reassurance from experts and peers. Luckily, negotiation training offers just that. Armed with this heightened confidence, trainees report that they are more likely to engage in negotiations and feel less stress throughout the process.
Still wondering what you can gain from a negotiation training? Get personalized advice from a negotiation expert. Schedule a call with Megan Winkeler, MWI’s Director of Training, at https://calendly.com/mwinkeler/15-minute-meeting to learn more.