The 21st century has been lauded as the Information Age, an age driven by intense competition and a rapidly evolving business environment. In such an environment, business requires essential strategies for communication to stay ahead of the competition. Here are three strategies that can be employed to improve business communication, all designed to improve the ability to negotiate:
1. The Use of Questions
Negotiation entails a discussion of points of views between one or more parties. As such, asking questions is an integral aspect of the negotiation process. However, asking the right questions can be a challenge for most negotiators. “The type of question asked can determine how the recipients perceive the other party involved in the negotiation,” says Rachael Maxwell, Senior Business Writer. As such, it is important that a negotiator asks effective and useful questions.
Open-ended questions require a detailed answer. These types of questions require the respondent to provide some detail, a vital aspect of a successful negotiation. These types of questions help one gather intelligence about the other party involved in the negotiation. Open opportunity questions invite a respondent to offer their views in participation. These are useful in ensuring inclusion in the negotiation process. A leading question attempts to guide the respondent to one’s point of view in a manner that is persuasive in nature. A low-key question aims at inquiring information about something without instigating emotion in the response.
However, there are other types of questions that are considered to pose a threat to the sustainability of the negotiation process. Such questions are counterproductive and tend to instigate negative emotional responses. Such questions are usually manipulative in nature and tend to threaten the negotiation process. Aggressive questions result from one being pushy with an agenda while loaded questions tend to place the respondent in an uncomfortable and defensive position. Other questions trigger emotions based on how they are framed while others are impulsive in nature and come out as inappropriate.
“Listening is a central concept in two aspects of communication and negotiation, i.e., avoiding fatal mistakes and achieving closure,” explains Brian Qualman, Communications Director at ConfidentWriters. Being a good listener is a vital part of avoiding mistakes surrendering information needlessly. Additionally, it also helps avoid making ‘dumb remarks’ that may otherwise drive away the counterpart(s) involved in the negotiation. According to Lindsay Anderson, Communications Officer at Example Papers, having a keen ear for discerning faux pas and dumb remarks by the other party(s) involved in the negotiation is vital to developing a better understanding of these individuals or entities. As such, listening is a characteristic that underpins successful negotiations.
The decision-making process in achieving closure is defined by four key elements: framing, gathering intelligence, coming to conclusions, and learning from feedback. Learning feedback is considered one of the most challenging aspects of this process, a component that is largely a communication-based issue. Listening, which requires an open-minded approach, when conducting analysis and evaluation, can significantly augment this process, making achieving closure expedient.
Active listening together with reading nonverbal cues is prerequisite skills for successful negotiators. Active listening has positive impacts on the perceptions of the other parties involved in the negotiation. Active listening is perceived as a way of showing appreciation and shows that the opinions, input, and time are valued. Listening is the key to negotiation effectiveness. Through listening, an individual is able to identify the levels of emphasis of the various parties, cultural context, verbal language, hidden meanings, and ensure inclusion in the negotiation process.
3. Role Reversal
One of the most effective ways to guarantee successful negotiations is the use of role reversal. Role reversal entails one party arguing and perceiving the situation from the point of view of the counterparts in the negotiation. When a negotiator expects a role reversal, they are likely to make decisions that are more conscious and will expediently arrive at an agreement compared to when role reversal is not expected. This takes place since negotiators have the expectation of reciprocation from the other party involved in the negotiation.