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The art of negotiation

24 October 2019

How highly do you rate your ability to negotiate in your business?

Negotiation is one of the three pillars for success in people management, according to professional negotiator Sam Trattles, who is one of the presenters in the new MLA-backed ‘Practical Leader’ program which is being rolled out in the Northern Territory next month.

Here, Sam shares the three most important questions for producers to ask when it comes to a successful negotiation.

1. Are you prepared?

“At work, we typically know when we’re about to be faced with a negotiation. Taking five minutes prior to approaching the situation can make a huge difference to the outcome. Use the time to consider:

  1. What do I want?
  2. If they say yes/no/maybe – what will my response be?
  3. Is my ‘head in the game’ and ready for the conversation?”

2. Are you saying what you mean?

“Sometimes it's difficult to really say what we mean when there is a lot at stake. Often we have the words in our head, but fear saying them out loud will either upset or inflame the situation, so we either don’t say anything or we say yes when we mean no.

A tactic for overcoming this is to push through it – make the words come out of your mouth, then sit in the uncomfortable silence for what I call: 15 seconds of pain. If you need to watch your watch, do it.”

3. Is everyone listening?

“Challenges often occur when people aren’t listening to one another. When you are in a negotiation and getting frustrated, stop for a moment and:

  1. take a few deep breaths
  2. take a moment to really listen to what the other person is asking of you
  3. confirm what you are hearing. Say to the other person eg “Am I right in thinking what you’re saying is (your understanding of what they said).”

This should change the direction of the conversation, identify that there is confusion and allow the negotiation to get back on track.”