Learn from Experiences

Improve your basic win-win negotiating skills. The next time you compete for resources or struggle to get what you need from others, use the worksheet at the bottom of the article to ensure others gain something from the interaction as well.

Successful negotiation is all about effective listening. Build your skills by applying the five key elements of active listening the next time you need to negotiate.

Find small ways for everyone involved to win by conceding on points when it makes sense to and thanking others for their expertise and contributions to the discussion. Set an inclusive tone that makes others comfortable and respects their needs.

Consider an upcoming issue you need to negotiate. Prepare a document with all the elements involved and group them into three categories: “need to have”, “nice to have” and “optional.”

The next time you need to negotiate, downsize the situation by narrowing the focus as much as possible. Attempt to bring out points both sides can tentatively agree upon, or to trade concessions.

Learn from Others

Ask a mentor or colleague to be a critical test audience for a high-priority proposal. Set aside an hour and present your ideas to your critic, then ask for them to play devil’s advocate and target weaknesses in your reasoning or preparation. Ask them to point out areas that are unlikely to be concessions and develop options for handling these.

Leverage a performance checkpoint to negotiate new responsibilities or new projects. Propose reasons for making changes and be prepared to make concessions or changes to your current role.

Pre-network in order to get buy-in the next time you make a proposal. Remember that one of the strongest motivators for someone to concede to your needs is the strength of your relationship. Look for ways you can help people in your network before you need their help.

Watch the TED video, William Ury: The walk from "no" to "yes", with your colleagues. Discuss what you can learn from his elegant, simple (but not easy) way to create agreement in even the most difficult situations -- from family conflict to, perhaps, the Middle East.