It’s been said that negotiations are much like the game of chess. There is the back and forth nature of discussion, the willingness to lose something – like a pawn – in order to take the queen, and the person who is one step ahead of their opponent often wins.

I beg to differ. Negotiations are more like the tango.

The dance of a successful negotiation leaves both parties feeling as if they have won, unlike a game where there is always a winner and a loser.  Negotiations are also an important part of conflict resolution, new beginnings and relationship building, so we really want to feel like all parties have won.

A few small changes in how you approach negotiation can make a big impact on your outcomes. Here are some tips:

Meet in person. This helps build trust and improves the likelihood that both parties will be honest and open.

Use body language that shows that you want to work together. Lean in when the other person is talking and give responsive clues like nodding to show that you understand their point of view.

Plan Ahead. Before you meet, write down exactly what you want for an outcome, where you are willing to compromise, and the concessions you are just not willing to make.

Know your Audience. If you understand their vantage point before entering into discussion, you will understand more about what their interests are, and how you might find a successful outcome.

Developing negotiation skills will not only help with your professional goals, but personal ones too. Successful negotiations lead to better short solutions and long term outcomes – and in the end – they help you get what you want.

Tango, anyone?

Negotiation Skills: Dance with me?