negotiation trainingWhile developing the fine art and skill of negotiation is a necessary skill for success in life in general, as a consultant there’s a good chance your negotiation training skills could be the difference maker in your career. After all, what is negotiation except the ability to for two parties to find mutually agreeable terms that stakes out an area somewhere between opposing positions? What often gets in the way of a negotiation are four predictably human foibles.

1. Win at all costs: A win-at-all-costs mentality is a losing proposition for a consultant. By far the more effective tactic is to try and find a solution where both sides believe they have won. This can be especially important if this is a client you anticipate will have more projects for you down the road. It makes no sense to “beat” a person trying to give you money, does it?

2. Emotional Behavior: Emotions are an unavoidable and, in some situations, admirable human trait, but that situation is not the negotiating table. Emotions tend to lead to irrationality, which leads to counter-productive behavior like shouting, “Your Mother is a hamster and your Father smells of elderberries!” in the midst of an intense negotiation. Besides the hideously poor choice of insult material, the larger point is that he who loses control has lost it all.

3. Understand the Other Side: If you accept that we are in a negotiation session in hopes of arriving at a mutually beneficial solution, it only makes sense that you expend some effort to understand the other side. Without understanding the needs and wants of the person across the table, how is there any hope of working towards a compromised end? The funny little thing about taking the time to focus on the other person is you might find you’re really not that far apart.

4. Ignore Personalities – Stick to Issues: True, you might not be able to stand the obnoxious little brute you are forced to negotiate with but take a wild guess at how much that matters? Zero, friend, an absolute zero. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s a negotiation. Issues are the focus here, not whether or not he reminds you exactly of the bully who used to chase you home after school and shove you into thorn-covered shrubberies.

It would be a rare consultant indeed who didn’t make use of negotiation training skills on a regular basis. Even rarer still is the successful consultant who doesn’t figure out early in the game that being right or being wrong doesn’t matter nearly as much as getting along and finding an answer that works for everyone.

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