As a common daily activity, we are all engaged in negotiations with so many people almost every day. People negotiate with others to influence them and to achieve their goals in their personal lives or in their social activities. This is an important ability by means of which we receive support from others and acquire our needed information. More importantly in business, the art of negotiation becomes a vital skill for business people to avoid unnecessary arguments and disputes, in order to be able to make compromises with their counterparts and reach their objectives in business, in a mutually beneficial manner.
To be more specific, the first meeting can be very crucial in determining whether a business partnership or cooperation can continue successfully or not. A positive first impression is a fundamental element for a successful business partnership and for that business people should be aware of the key negotiation skills and strategies, in order to be able to have that impression on their future business partners. Here are some of the most important points to bear in mind before attending any business meetings:
- Prepare before the meeting: take time to think about the subject of the meeting and the questions which may be brought up by the other party. Think about your own strengths and weaknesses, specify what would be the outcomes that you are expecting from the meeting? What would be the conditions that you may accept? And under what circumstances you may leave the negotiation? On the other hand, also take time to think about what may be the things that the other party want and what would be their strength and weak points. This way you will be able to anticipate the general idea of the meeting and be more confident, prepared and ready for any questions or subjects raised during the meeting.
- Be on time: being on time, especially for the first meetings, can help you make an excellent first impression, which will be carved as a positive point in the mind of the person you meet for the first time and might be your future business partner. So, pay enough attention to the factors that can prevent you from arriving the meeting venue on time such as traffic jam, rush hours, etc.
- Be relaxed and have self-confidence: do not show your anxiety and do not let the other party know that you are nervous. It is actually because people can feel this weakness in you and some might take advantage of this situation in their own favor. Anxiety may also prevent you from negotiating effectively and can bring you failure in conveying your message and as a result can cause you be unsuccessful in achieving the goals or outcomes you wished to gain out of the meeting.
- Be aware of your body language: body language or in other words nonverbal cues can unconsciously convey lots of meanings and messages, which can directly affect the intuition of the person we negotiate with. For this reason, it is vital to be aware of our facial expressions, hand movements, eye contacts and much more to avoid having a bad impression, especially on the person we meet for the first time, who does not know us at all and has no idea about who we are. Positive body language during a meeting can start with a warm handshake and continue with maintenance of a friendly eye contact, keeping positive facial expressions displaying the attention paid to the subject, smiling and nodding in agreement whenever necessary, etc.
- Make Pauses and give some time to the other party: The ultimate goal in almost every meeting and negotiation is to compromise and play fair. In any negotiation, people need some time to make sure that their points of view and inputs have been heard and respected by the other party. Therefore, it is advisable to make pauses and keep quiet for a while, to show that you are as eager to hear the other person’s points of view as you want them to hear yours. This can also show the other party how much respect and attention you have for what they offer.
- Knowing when to leave the negotiation: It is completely lucid and logical to everyone that a successful business negotiation, which can later lead to business partnership, is a win-win situation that has a mutually beneficial condition for both parties. However, some battles are not worth fighting and it is vital to know when to walk away. If someone is evidently trying to insist only on their own benefits, with no concessions to yours, the best decision would be to leave the subject and exit the negotiation or postpone the rest of the meeting to another day.
It is obvious that successful businessmen are professional negotiators who constantly try to improve their negotiation skills. This, in fact, is one of the key factors, not only in business; but also in other daily activities, which can help people be successful in almost every aspect of their lives. Therefore, negotiation is an inseparable part of every person’s life and must be practiced over and over.