Relationships are complex, and business relationships are no different to personal ones. You’re often left second-guessing meanings and questioning outcomes. If they end, you’re often left wondering: where did I go wrong? Was it something I said?
Following these few simple rules can help you get more from your relationships and ensure their longevity. Building relationships builds trust, and you do better deals with those you trust than with those you don’t.
1) Be honest: It can be hard to be honest in business, especially when you’re negotiating a deal and you don’t want the other party to know what you know. However, there is a level of honesty that can be achieved without giving away all your secrets. Time after time, in the classroom and the boardroom, negotiators blatantly lie about something – usually to give themselves more leverage – and all that happens is deadlock ensues or mistrust takes over once facts become known. Relationships can’t thrive on mistrust and dishonesty. Would you be happy to deal with someone if they lied to you?
2) Empathise: If you can’t understand how, or why, something is affecting the other party, try to put yourself in their position. How would you feel in their shoes? Being more understanding towards others, and sympathetic rather than dismissive, is going to do wonders for your relationships.
3) Listen: Everyone appreciates being listened to. Even if you think they’re wrong or talking nonsense, it will benefit your relationship to listen. You shouldn’t just blindly listen but actively listen, by confirming details, summarising, acknowledging feelings and affirming understanding.
4) Think about them, not just you: Remember, negotiation is about trading. It’s not all about what you can get out of the deal; it’s a joint endeavour and to get a good deal, you’ll need to give the other party something. Not just anything, but something they need. Tap into their interests to find out what they’ll trade for what you want.
5) Think long term: Good negotiators know to think ahead. If both parties can achieve a good deal that means the potential for repeat business in the future. So being too aggressive early on will lead to short-term gains and long-term losses. Think ahead and don’t try to ‘beat’ the other party. Negotiation isn’t about winning, it’s about being successful.