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Business is all about give and take; realistically, you’re not going to get what you want without offering something of value in return. This is where strong negotiation skills come in handy. While the ability to bargain comes naturally to some, for others it takes time and practice.

The good news is, by adopting a few simple techniques, everyone has it in them to become a great negotiator. Here’s what you need to know about influencing your way to great negotiations:

1. Identify what you want….and what they want

Before you enter any business meeting, you must know exactly what you hope to achieve from it. If you haven’t identified an ideal outcome and the minimum you’ll settle for, you won’t know what to work towards once discussions start.

In the same way, it’s helpful to do a bit of research on the other party, in order to build an idea of what they’ll be looking to get out of the arrangement. This will help you to settle on a deal that is mutually beneficial.

You should be prepared to negotiate with an outlook of achieving different outcomes that could be acceptable for all parties, depending on the style of bargaining your counterpart pursues.

2. Understand that no one approach fits all

It’s a common misconception that a person’s negotiation approach is determined by their personality. In reality, everyone has the capability to adapt their behaviour according to their environment.

For this reason, it can be hard to predict how somebody may act in a negotiation. Instead of making any assumptions, wait to read their behaviour on the day, and then tailor your own behaviour accordingly. Unfortunately, an approach that might have been successful with one person in the past may not work well with another person (or even with the same person at a subsequent meeting), so adaptability is essential.

If somebody is cooperative and receptive at the negotiation table, you want to mirror this behaviour because you’ll get the best results and most respect. In contrast, if someone is behaving overly dominant, you should always call out that behaviour, because people who negotiate in that aggressive way are being unprofessional.

3. Gain their respect

The best negotiators are calm, likeable and helpful. By building a rapport with your client or customer before getting stuck into business, you’re more likely to gain their respect. In turn, they may feel more inclined to make concessions for you.

In return, demonstrate that you respect their suggestions by listening attentively, and allowing them to express their thoughts before sharing your own. You never know, you may build a long-term relationship that can remain valuable in the future.

In short, being an effective negotiator is all about flexibility. If you’re able to adapt your behaviour to suit whoever turns up at the other side of the table, and you’re open to striking a compromise, you’ll be well on your way to finding success at every negotiation you face.