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The Art of Negotiation
Negotiation Communication

The Art of Negotiation

Learning how to negotiate effectively will help your advocacy. Negotiation is a careful exploration of your position and the other person’s position, with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable compromise that gives you both as much of what you want as possible. People's positions are rarely as fundamentally opposed as they may initially appear.

There are different styles of negotiation, depending on circumstances. A 'win-lose' negotiation is where you push through what you want, winning the immediate battle. This is not recommended if you want to maintain the relationship – or if you want the agreement to be lasting. It leaves the losing party feeling resentful and uncooperative. The same is true about the use of tricks and manipulation during a negotiation. Honesty and openness are the best policies.

Ultimately, both sides should feel comfortable with the final solution if the agreement is to be considered ‘win-win’. Good negotiating is about both sides leaving feeling they got what they wanted or at least better off than when they went in.

The main things you need to consider before any negotiation are:

  • What do I ideally want out of this?
  • What would I be willing to compromise on?
  • What must I not give way on (your ‘bottom line’)?

Negotiation Communication

  • Use simple, explicit and descriptive language.
  • Avoid blame and personal remarks.
  • Speak your opponents’ language.
  • Use open questions.
  • Include questions about emotions/feelings – because each parties’ emotional needs have to be met in a satisfactory solution. But try to discuss these in an unemotional way.
  • Use active listening – try to really understand what they want from this.
  • Repeat key phrases that the other contributes (this build rapport and understanding).
  • Double-check any statements that are unclear (e.g. ‘do you mean that...).
  • State your own needs, interests, beliefs, feelings, fears/concerns etc. – be concise, non-emotional and clear.
  • Review and sum up.

Advocacy Tool

Tool 40. Negotiation Technique Tips
This tool gives some useful tips on successful negotiation.

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