What does the expression 'negotiation techniques' really mean? After all, the word negotiation pertains to a party or parties reaching a mutually beneficial result pertaining in a wide variety of occurrences. This also includes characterized subjects like interpersonal communication skills, which like negotiation techniques, is a very broad and in-depth subject.
For example, Benny knows his way with words. He is very well articulated, from expressing his ideas clearly to emphasizing enthusiasm in his articulations. He has the charisma to charm any person that engages him. However, though he is an expert with his interpersonal skills, Benny hates uncertainty, so he rushes through situations with high ambiguity just to 'get it over with'. So how well would you say his negotiation techniques are? Probably not so good because negotiations are outcomes that cannot be precisely predicted or entirely guaranteed. The general formula of a negotiation is the marriage between the difference in opinions or observations while working with limited information in the best possible way.
Suzanne is an ex-broker with strong nerves and the ability to contain uncertainty—in a vague situation she's more than adequate. She’s a ‘straight-to-the-point, no fooling around’ kind of person with a 'shoot to kill' attitude. This makes her a very rough negotiator with no room for small talk whatsoever. How well would you say her negotiation techniques are? Indeed she enjoys her leverage—in terms of enjoying the benefit of having the advantage over her negotiating counterpart—then her powerful persuasion might yield results. But what about the more common and by far more complicated situations where she does not enjoy such leverage or perhaps she is in the low ground?
Jack has excellent linguistic abilities, along with undeniable charm and charisma. He has a flexible attitude and he can fit his attitude to the context of any situation. He can play hardball as well as softball according to the circumstances. Yet life events leave their marks as Jack believes in scarcity. The prominent paradigm 'there isn't enough for all' is a phrase he lives by closely. What would you say his level of negotiation techniques is? How well does he negotiate? Indeed his abilities to communicate sweep his listeners off their feet and his personality flexibility earns him a lot of points in many negotiations, helping him to close deals on good terms. But in more difficult situations where one approach can turn the negotiation from competitive to a collaborative one, could possibly allow Jack to blow it big time. I can continue to describe Jill, Don and Larry with positive and negative traits, but I think you get the idea.
Is the point that I'm trying to make to convey a good negotiator as Superman or Superwomen? I am certainly not. I would like to claim that negotiation techniques are a wide variety of techniques that embraces one's skills, methodologies, techniques, perspectives, paradigms and so forth. A statement I use in my negotiation techniques workshop is that a man negotiates based on what he is. As the strength of a chain is determined by the strength of the weakest link, so are one’s negotiation techniques. And more than that, a chain becomes a chain, as opposed to a single link, by the number of links connected together. Negotiation techniques form adequate negotiation skills only when they include a variety of abilities.
Therefore, a negotiation techniques training should be a comprehensive training that covers a few links in the chain. These skills include the art of asking questions, perceptions like the ‘I win’ approach—which is superior to the ‘win-win’ approach—mental abilities like tolerance to ambiguity, and strategic skills like analyzing the power balance between parties and so forth.
Each training can and perhaps should, concentrate on some of these aspects so a trainee will improve her negotiation technique abilities. By undergoing different trainings, the idea that a person negotiates based on what he stands for should be accentuated in order to allow trainees to build, improve, and master a variety of negotiation techniques.
More about the I Win approach, which was mentioned in this post, can be found in the book The I Win Conflict & Negotiation Approach: Compromise Less And Win More with A Better Alternative To The Win-Win Approach.