Negotiator’s toolkit: Traits of hard-nosed successful mediators


The most critical thing in a negotiation is to get inside your opponent’s head and figure out what he really wants. FILE PHOTO | POOL

“The most critical thing in a negotiation is to get inside your opponent’s head and figure out what he really wants.” ~Jacob Lew

Being adept at negotiations is a pretty powerful resource to have. Herbert C Kelman an American social psychologist and negotiation expert defines negotiation as “the process of interaction whereby parties, with some common and some conflicting interests, seek to do better through joint decision-making than they could individually.”

Negotiation prowess is critical in our lives. It is a desirable competency to cultivate and invest in because of the benefits that are accrued to it. What are the key ingredients of hardnosed negotiators? Certain consistent traits come up as indicators of successful negotiators.

What does one need to become a renowned negotiator? Preparation, preparation and more preparation. This is important in refining one’s ability to be a high-performing mediator. Pre-arrangement includes defining objectives and priorities, gathering information about the opponents, dissecting strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, mapping out a strategic plan, anticipating various negotiation scenarios, preparing communication approaches and arguments as well as building confidence and mental readiness.

Negotiators are communicators of the highest order. They know how to articulate the issues at hand without losing focus. Astute communicators have the dexterity for information sharing, seeking clarification and questioning perspectives presented, they are active listeners and persuasive. How do we become persuasive? This happens through credibility, audience management, clarity, authenticity, emotional intelligence, confidence and consistency.

To elevate one’s chance of succeeding one must possess negotiation tactics like concessions, bargaining, anchoring, reciprocity, creation of urgency and building rapport.

In the modern world, it isn’t possible to excel without the ability to crunch data. The negotiator should understand numbers or have a teammate who can crack insights out of numbers.

Negotiators know that the exercise is a win-win situation. Win-win moments lead to positive reputations, reduce conflict escalation, preserve relationships, enhance commitment, maximise value, promote long-term success and foster innovation.

World-class conciliators are relationship builders. They create connections with their counterparts.

Negotiations are very fluid. That is mental ingenuity will come in handy. To avoid impasses creative thinking translates into generating options, flexible problem-solving, reframing issues, collaborative brainstorming, combining interests, risk-taking and adopting new technologies.

The benefits of out-of-the-box thinking include discovering hidden opportunities, discovery of creative solutions, breakthroughs in deadlocked situations, enhanced problem-solving, differentiation and competitive advantage, creation of win-win opportunities, adaptation to changing circumstances, strengthened relationships and long-term success.

Execution in negotiations turns plans into results, maintains momentum, seizes opportunities, manages risks, builds credibility, adapts to changing circumstances, achieves agreement, creates value and preserves relationships. In life, we find ourselves in negotiation mode every second which is why we should put more enthusiasm into it to excel in businesses and careers.

The writer is an Award-Winning HR, Trainer and Conference Speaker. Email: [email protected]

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