What practical skills for negotiation should we teach students? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
Here are three things that are both practical and give you the power to distinguish yourself:
#1. Don't be afraid to find out: amplify and clarify. This will get you to the point where you'll learn to listen between the lines and find out what makes people really tick. You'll make great deals and have great allies. Learning to read people and then make that knowledge useful in your negotiations in a way that benefits your negotiation partners eventually makes you become someone who can make deals others can't. You become the "fixer", that is, the go-to person who they send in to succeed when no one else can.
#2. Let respect and credibility be your currencies. Lying and trying to intimidate the other side with anger or threats is like bad drugs. You might be able get what you want in the short-term, but in the long term those things are going to hurt you.
Lying is bad for two reasons: first, it might be a trap. The other side might be trying to lure you into a lie just to test you. They might already know the truth, or they might just be better at lying then you are.
The second reason lying is bad is that you will eventually be found out. You'll get tripped up in the lie before you get what you want, or once they find out you've lied they'll never want to deal with you again.
#3. Long-term success is in not "beating" the other side. Long term success is making great allies who want to participate in success with you. Beating the other side only leaves people who want to pay you back. If you beat them badly enough, they will let everyone they know find out how difficult you are to deal with. Most negotiators come to learn this the hard way because they have a series of spectacular successes when they've been very aggressive. Then slowly, over a not too long period of time, no one wants to deal with them anymore. They effectively put themselves out of business and the people they've beaten begin to go out of their way to hurt them as revenge.
They end up then needing to move on to another industry or city to start over again. People's reputations precede them wherever they go. It can either increase the chances you'll make a deal or diminish them.
When people participate in success with you, they become part of your team. Good teams beat great players every day. Success is always easier with a team. It's even the mark of successful new businesses. More new businesses survive when there is a team behind them than when it is only one person alone.
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