November 20, 2017

Misunderstandings in Negotiation

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Have you ever said something, only for it to be taken completely wrongly? I’ve just had a two-day argument with my husband because he picked up on something I said, took it the wrong way and ended up having a huge row about it!

It got me thinking about how important communication is, most especially in negotiation. Communication is at the heart of every negotiation. Our job as a negotiator is to understand our own wants, understand the other party’s wants, and then propose exchanges towards a solution.

We may think we are explaining our positions clearly to the other party, but what if we are not? What if we are not being clear at all?

It is very easy for us to understand what we mean – we have all the information and know what we are trying to say – but the other party doesn’t. If we are not explaining things well enough, are they hearing what we want them to hear?

Listening skills are also woefully poor for most people. We tend to hear what we want, and not listen to everything. If we hear something that interested us, we start to think about it, perhaps even think about how we will respond to it… but are we blocking out other information as a result? We can’t listen and think at the same time so something has to give. If we are not actively listening, we are missing out on vital communication.

Here are some tips on how we can do better at communicating in negotiation:

  •  Be clear and assertive
  • Summarise regularly
  • Take notes when listening
  • Ask questions to clarify understanding
  • Be constructive and open in debate
  • Make sure the message you are sending is the message you want to be received
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