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Source: Mind Tools

The word "negotiation" conjures up images of high-pressure situations, where people have a lot to lose if they get things wrong.

In fact, you probably negotiate several times each day. You do it at home and at work for all sorts of things, from deciding what to make for dinner, to settling on terms for a job promotion. Because of this, you are a negotiator, even if you don't think of yourself as one! 

But how well do you negotiate? Do you know how to recognize situations where negotiating is appropriate? And do you understand the elements of an effective negotiation?

In this article, we'll discuss some of the fundamentals of negotiating successfully, so that you can meet your needs without causing conflict when you do have to say "no".

Negotiating Basics

Negotiation is simply the act of reaching agreement as to how you'll move forwards. It's the process of communicating back and forth, and finally having all parties agree to a solution.

There are many ways to arrive at this agreement. Some people view negotiation as a game they have to win. They use "hard" negotiation tactics, and this often leaves one party very satisfied and the other side with no choice but to agree. The problem with this approach is that the relationship between the two parties is often permanently damaged. The person asking for something may receive it, but the second person probably feels taken advantage of and, perhaps, angry and resentful. If it wasn't really a willing "yes," the second person is unlikely to complete the work quickly, or with a positive attitude.

The opposite approach is to accommodate. This is when one party yields his or her position and original goal, simply agreeing to what the other person wants. This "soft" tactic is often the result of wanting to keep relationships friendly. The end result, however, is that this person doesn't get what's needed, and he or she loses control to the other person.

Negotiations that aim for mutually satisfying outcomes are often best. These are sometimes called collaborative, integrative, or principled negotiations. The techniques used to conduct these help negotiators find a solution that shows high concern for the needs of both sides. The result is a win-win solution: rather than one side giving up a "position," the focus is on finding a new position where everyone is happy and is satisfied.

In the book "Getting to Yes," based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, authors Roger Fisher and William Ury outline four parameters for principled negotiation:  (Go here for more)