The very thought of being involved in a negotiation fills most people with dread.
Images immediately spring to mind of hard-nosed business people facing off across a table.
Or Hollywood-style dramas where bank robbers demand getaway cars in return for hostages.
Such images only reinforce the stereotype that negotiations must have a winner and a loser.
It’s this fear of losing or being left embarrassed that causes many people to avoid negotiations like the plague.
Our negotiation skills course shows you how experts around the world do this successfully every day.
So what are negotiating skills?
There’s an idea that successful negotiations are about being smarter or more forceful than the other party.
The reality is that a negotiation is simply a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement.
It’s about creating an environment where trust can develop and there’s a will to co-operate from all parties.
In many cases this can be straight forward as the willingness to co-operate is already evident.
But what happens when there’s a degree of reluctance, mistrust or conflict?
How do you reach a positive outcome or resolution in these circumstances?
Experience has taught me that the key to success in negotiation is ensuring that first and foremost, the other party need to feel valued and heard.
As the saying goes:
‘First seek to understand, then be understood’.
All too often there’s a desire to get our point across first and highlight what we need.
We fail to consider what’s really important to the other party.
Making it ‘all about us’ and ignoring the other side’s position leads to conflict and negativity.
And ultimately either a poorer outcome or failing to reach an agreement at all.
Using the skills honed by crisis negotiators over decades ensures that any negotiation can be successful.
It allows you to build better relationships along the way.
It helps you to gain an understanding of how to influence others.
And it increases your confidence in dealing with challenging people.
My role as a Hostage and Crisis Negotiator was the most intense yet rewarding period of my police career.
I experienced first-hand the massive impact that strong communications skills can have.
I’m a graduate of the FBI Hostage Negotiation Program at Quantico.
My main role was as Operational Lead for Police Scotland’s Hostage Negotiation Unit.
And I worked with law enforcement agencies across the globe on numerous high-risk negotiations.
The potential for losing a life was almost always a factor.
The sense of purpose to help prevent injury or the loss of life was always paramount.
Negotiations lasted anywhere from a matter of hours to weeks (particularly in some hostage incidents).
One thing was true at the end of each, though: the palpable sense of relief and elation.
Knowing you were part of a team that helped save a vulnerable person from harm.
Or that you played a part in ensuring people could return to their families after an abduction or hostage situation.
Your negotiations will be a world away from police sirens and cordoned-off buildings.
Yet the principles are the same.
It’s all about a fruitful discussion to reach an agreement.
And I’m delighted to be able to share my knowledge and expertise on Pink Elephant’s negotiation skills training course.
Email us if you’re interested in booking a course for your team.
Colin Harper is Pink Elephant’s new tutor for Negotiation Skills training courses.
Negotiation Skills training blog by Colin Harper.
Negotiation Skills training blog edited by Colin Stone.
Photos in Negotiation Skills training blog by Colin Harper, Pink Elephant, Sora Shimazaki and Anna Shvets.
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