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Negotiation Tools and Tactics for the Project Manager

written by: Suba Lakshminarasimhan • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 9/9/2013

Are you struggling to retain employees in your project? Do you face difficulties making your client agree to certain terms? Without adequate negotiation skills, managing a project can be very challenging. Learn more about key negotiation tactics you need to succeed.

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    The Key Tactics and Tools You Need

    Negotiation strategy is not a simple theory of winning or achieving something. Be it your peers, subordinates, shareholders, vendors, or the clients, you must understand how your counterparts think and act during the negotiation. This technique will help you to lead the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation, you should be able to draw an agreement which is firm and secure.

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    1. Listen and Paraphrase

    Do you know which is the most important negotiating tactic you should have as a project manager? Talking less and listening more. Listening is essential while negotiating, especially when you are handling conflicts with the team or communicating with clients. You put a solid foundation of faith in your opponent's mind by listening to them. This tactic will also act as a key to create a win-win situation.

    Show respect and practice active listening. This means affirming what the other person is saying by repeating it back to them. Paraphrasing is very important once the opponent ends his speech. Be careful here, paraphrase only if you have understood their requirements clearly. If you are confused at some point, better ask them to clarify instead of assuming.

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    2. Use the Power of Emotional Labeling

    Emotional Labelling,marcello99, sxc.hu 

    Emotional labeling is an another powerful negotiation technique. This helps to identify the emotions that run through the other person’s mind. The emotional aspect of the other person can be identified by their actions and words.

    For example, if you sense that the other person is tense and about to blow up, try to show a calm face by lowering the tone of your voice. When you show a relaxed face, it will have an effect on the other person and he will automatically calm down. You can now easily continue with the negotiation process by calming the situation and come up with a solution.

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    3. Build a Rapport

    Not having a prejudiced image of an issue, or the other person, will help to build a rapport while negotiating. Building a rapport is very important, especially when you are negotiating any proposal with the client. Aim at creating a situation where the clients provide more information about their requirements and concerns. This can be achieved by building a rapport and listening to them carefully. Mirroring is the key negotiation tactic you should possess while building a rapport. Is your opponent showing frustration? Repeat the last phrases that they use. This will help a great deal in the primary stages of the negotiation process to build a rapport.

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    4. Use Effective Pauses and Open Ended Questions

    Keeping a long and awkward silence is one powerful tool that senior managers use, and indeed in many historical negotiations. Normally, people tend to speak more while facing a long silence and are likely to pour out more information. Avoid using statements which can provoke the person you are negotiating with. Provoking their emotions will end up with no fruitful results from the negotiation.

    Open ended questions are one of the most essential negotiation tactics that project managers use to gather more information from the opponent. Instead of asking questions with ‘what?’ and ‘where?’ ask them questions using phrases like ‘Sorry, I don’t quite understand this. Could you please explain it?’. These are the vital negotiation tools the HR project managers use while working on the salaries and packages of potential candidates.

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    5. Become a Projective Thinker

    Many people fall into the trap of talking too much or providing too many examples from the past. It is more important to listen to your client's concerns. Do not allow room for proactive or reactive thoughts or actions. Remember, the negotiation takes you to a bright future. Stay away from providing too many examples from the past. Pointing to historical evidence does not always help. Is there anyone who dismisses your ideas bluntly? Be a projective thinker and act in mature ways. Instead of withdrawing from the discussion in such situations, retreat within yourself during this process.

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    Create a Win-Win Situation

    The successful project manager always finds ways to improve his/her negotiation skills. Most of us think that those who master negotiating tactics speak more; this is not entirely true. Creating a win-win situation requires more listening and understanding than talking.Win-Win, udonline, sxc.hu 

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