Negotiation is not complicated nor is it simple; it is simply a matter of complicated people trying to get what they want. This is possible so long as everyone understands and uses common standards and practices to reach common goals, not with the intention of victory in mind but, rather, mutual satisfaction. In order to get you must give – this is not compromise – and you must give what is vital and necessary while receiving the same. Listening is the key to understanding, but this does not come naturally.

To listen is also to communicate, and there are two emotional factors that affect most conversations: (i) how you feel about the other person’s ideas; and (ii) what you believe the other person feels about your ideas. Once you understand the role emotions play in communication within negotiation, you will be able to place yourself in the other person’s shoes. That old cliché means you have empathy, a quality that can be cultivated by developing genuine interest in other people. That doesn’t mean nodding with approval, sympathy, or agreeing with someone else. Empathy is recognising that others are entitled to their own beliefs, just as you are, and that they have certain needs to satisfy and goals to achieve, just as you do. To be a successful negotiator you must possess sufficient empathy and sensitivity to the needs and wants of others. The secret to empathy is understanding and caring and the ability to communicate in both words and actions that you are interested in their needs.

Apr-Jun 2014 issue

International Center for Compassionate Organizations