Five Ways to Sharpen Your Negotiation Skills

Whether it’s a new job, a raise, a new home, or even a relationship you’re after, being able to negotiate well can have a hug impact in your life. Follow these 5 tips to be a better and more effective negotiator in all aspects of life.

1. Listen Carefully
A successful negotiator will listen and allow the other person to express their thoughts completely. If you interrupt often, you may miss much of their message. Successful negotiators also listen for areas of agreement, rather than disagreement, according to a communications expert. You can use these areas of agreement to your advantage during the discussion.

2. Learn to Read Body Language
Body language can tell you so much. Pay attention to how the other person is acting – do they seem nervous or confident? Use your own body language to your advantage, as well. Sit up straight, and use eye-contact, facial expressions, and note-taking to acknowledge that you are listening and willing to work with them.

3. Don’t Provide too Many Options
It may seem wise to put as many options on the table as possible, in the hopes that the other person will like one of them. But this expert suggests limiting the available options to 2 or 3. If you provide too much choice, the other side may become overwhelmed and get frustrated. If you limit the choices, they may choose more quickly and it will more likely be an option you are happy with.

4. Always Stay in Control of you Emotions
Even if the discussion turns heated, keep your emotions in check. Take a break if needed, or take notes to vent on paper rather than out-loud. If you react emotionally or get agitated, you may make mistakes or give the other person the upper hand in the conversation. If they are the one who is bringing the tone up, stay calm and remain focused on the goal.

5. Know the Alternatives
People tend not to push hard enough in negotiations out of a fear of having their opponent walk away, according to experts. This can be avoided by have a good sense of what your options are. If you have many options (a strong housing market, or another job on the table, for example) you can afford to be more aggressive to get what you want. If what you’re going after is one of a kind, you may need to be more sensitive and then you’re not in as good a spot as a negotiator. It’s smart to have options.