Friday, July 8, 2011

Becoming a Great Negotiator

To become a great negotiator requires the same types of investment that being great in anything requires:
  1. Assess yourself. Learn what you know and what you don’t know then make a plan to learn what you don’t know. For example, if you don’t understand purchase order or contract term, seek to find out what they mean and why they are included in the contract.
  2. Don’t just be good at the basics, master them!
  3. Don’t just do things, understand why you are being asked to do them.
  4. Look for all sources to learn, and make the investment in studying them to gain insight.  While its nice to have all the information be spoon fed to you in a course or seminar, there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of books on negotiation and the knowledge you need for negotiations goes well beyond those. If I learn one or two things from a book or article that I can use in a negotiation, it’s been worth the investment of my time.
  5. At work use the knowledge available to help learn in a form of “on the Job Training”.
    1. Take all the training you can get.
    2. Listen to supervisors and managers. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance. 
    3. Discuss issues with others and your peers. They may have recently dealt with the same or similar issue, received guidance and can pass that on.
    4. Look for the experts and ask to shadow them in a negotiation.
    5. After the negotiation is over ask them what they did and why.
    6. Every time you get guidance from an expert, write it down and save it. Build your own library that you can refer to as needed.
  6. After each negotiation, assess your performance.  What went well? What do you need to improve? Search for guidance on how to improve it.
  7. The internet contains substantial materials that are worth reviewing.
    1. If you run across a word used in a negotiation or training and don’t understand it, look it up in the dictionary or Google™ it.
    2. Join groups on sites such as for specialized information about negotiations. I follow at number of groups focused on negotiation that are run by individuals, companies or organizations. You can ask questions or learn by comments other make.
  8. Join professional organizations that have training programs, on-line courses and meetings where you can learn and network.
  9. Make career moves to manage different activities and learn new things to broaden you horizon, experience and knowledge.

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