People Skills Are Essential to Negotiation Success

Negotiation is at the heart of a business. Winning customers, building partnerships, and securing vendors are all negotiation processes. The skills required to negotiate successfully are complex: inter-personal communication, sales skills, a bit of analytical psychology, assertiveness, and conflict resolution. In short, for a company to do well, the lead negotiator must like people and know how to deal with many different types of people.

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I want to talk a bit about networking with new acquaintances or renewing old contacts.  Networking is often dreaded because it sounds like being disingenuous or insincere. Good networking is genuine and sincere. I made the point in Week 1 that communication skills are crucial, and they can be learned. Warren Buffett has said that “public speaking” is the most important skill he ever learned.  So let’s discuss a few ideas on how to make networking less stressful and more successful.  In this video, I will list three key things to remember when networking and expand on why they are so important. My UBC Management students will remember this from my Management Communication course.

Some years ago, the British comedian and Monty Python member, John Cleese participated in a series of sales and management training videos. To this day, I still laugh remembering one of them, “How Not to Exhibit Yourself.” “How Not to Exhibit Yourself” focuses on trade show behavior and particularly how to effectively connect with potential customers, but in my mind, the humorous lessons offered by Cleese could just as easily apply to networking with people in general. My key point in this post is that regardless whatever field you work, your ability and skill in relating to people and communicating effectively will be crucial to your success.

I noticed the following post on LinkedIn, and thought that it was important to share it. When I first came to UBC to teach Industry Analysis and Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Management, I was struck by how utterly unprepared Faculty of Management students were to stand up and communicate their ideas. Most students used 3 x 5 cards and stared at the floor. One student, without realizing it, stood up and crossed his arms across his chest, projecting only his personal discomfort with the situation. Clearly this problem needed to be addressed. If there is one thing I have learned since graduating with a Speech-Communication degree, it is the importance of being able to stand up and communicate your ideas, what you believe, and most importantly, who you are. It is crucial to career success.

Baseball players, particularly pitchers, are known for being superstitious. These superstitions have been immortalized by characters like Pedro Cerrano, the Cuban center fielder and his doll Joboo, in the film Major League. Real life examples abound. But it now turns out that research has shown that following personal rituals may increase your self-confidence and actually help you ace a job interview or a big presentation.

I will sanitize this Silicon Valley story. A very large technical workstation company tried to bully a smaller workstation company I worked for. The big company was OEM’ing the small company’s superior technology. The big company stopped paying their bills, running up a huge delinquent payable amount, believing they could leverage the small company into additional concessions. We met with them secretly over Thanksgiving in our offices. In an arrogant gesture, the big company tried to offer 1/3 of their delinquent payables. We literally threw the very large handwritten check back at them and told them to leave. A week later the full delinquent amount was paid, and they complimented us, saying “nothing had impressed them more, than when we threw the check back at them. The supreme irony was that the two senior execs who had flown from Boston to Silicon Valley to meet with us over the holiday weekend, never bothered to look at our financials before trying their arrogant scheme. We had $65 Million in cash in the bank.”

Fourth Year UBC Faculty of Management students will recall many of these points on “ice breaker” techniques to grab the attention of your audience. Use of any of these five suggestions may depend on your public speaking situation. Are you there to inform, inspire, entertain, or call the audience to action?…Is the situation solemn, serious, or relaxed? It can make a significant difference to the success of your speech.