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Want to Be a Better Negotiator? There’s Only One Thing You Need to Know

This will greatly increase the odds of creating a win-win outcome.

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BY Quora - 30 Nov 2018

be a better negotiator

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

What is the best way to become a better negotiator? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman of Nokia and F-Secure, Author of Transforming Nokia, on Quora:

What is the best way to become a better negotiator?

It is all about understanding the other party's point of view. Just the act of truly making an effort to understand and being genuinely interested in what they are looking for can create a positive atmosphere. Asking a lot of questions always pays off as the better you know the other party, the better you are at negotiating.

For a complex negotiation, it is imperative to strive to create an environment of trust. Be honest, take the long-term view and don't try to win. Rather aim for an outcome with which both parties can be happy with.

Because many negotiations tend to be somewhat adversarial, like two teams facing off against each other, I try to view myself more like a referee than a player. If I play my role well, then the teams on the field play the same game, they follow the same rules, and they play in such a way that the sport becomes enjoyable.

A higher objective is to guide the main principal from the other team to join me in thinking about the big picture. If we can do that, instead of focusing only on a single game, we are much more likely to achieve a win-win outcome.

That said, the key success factors are:

  • Maximize face time in the negotiations.
  • Keep the teams small and the feel of the discussion intimate.
  • Match a negotiator with a counterpart on the other team. For example, during the Nokia-Microsoft deal, our two CLOs and CFOs were natural pairs. I was the right counterpart to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
  • Plan your negotiation tactics in advance. Prepare for all scenarios.
  • Be systematic and clear in what you ask. Know your limits, know your deal breakers, and know when to give in.
  • Keep up the momentum. Make sure that there is always a next step agreed to by both parties.
  • Ask boldly for what you need. Explain clearly why you're asking for it. Don't be afraid to push the envelope but focus your energy on doing so in a way most likely to produce your desired outcome.
  • Relationship building is an important part of negotiating. Trust keeps the lines of communication open, even when negotiations break down, and enables you to restart proceedings.
  • Obstacles are an opportunity to create trust.
  • Keep your board--or your boss--with you every step of the way.
  • Leave your ego at the door.

The underlying lesson: Don't become a captive of the traditional ways of negotiating and doing deals. Use your brains to do what makes sense according to the circumstances. Be bold and humble, eager and patient. Combine intuition with rigorous analysis and a hefty dose of caution. Prepare for every alternative and you will never be surprised.

This question originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. More questions:

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