There are four primary things to look for when selecting the best negotiation course: focus, prerequisites, interactive activities, and coaching. Most people complete a negotiation course for one of two reasons: it is required in their job or there is a desire to start a new career. Negotiations are a series of maneuvers that occur between two parties in an attempt to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. There is a wide range of reasons for entering into negotiations, from starting a new job and discussing the salary to purchasing a home.
When trying to select the best negotiation course, the first thing to do is to clearly define what you hope of obtaining from the course. There are courses available in a huge array of fields. Take the time to write down exactly which skills you would like obtain, being as specific as possible. Evaluate your current skill in negotiating honestly and think about what you want to achieve.
Read the course description or syllabus in detail to get a full understanding of the topics that the course will cover and in what depth. Review the reference material that will be used in the course and determine if this is the correct focus for your purposes. The field of negotiations is very broad, and while the general concepts can be applied to a range of situations, the best courses focus on the details. A course that does not address your areas of interest is not the best negotiation course for you.
Many courses offered at the professional level have prerequisites. These are listed in the course description and may include undergraduate degrees or other courses from a professional negotiation training association. It is important to note that students who register for a course but do not have the prerequisites may find themselves unable to understand the material. This is a waste of both your time and money.
Look for courses that offer interactive activities, such as mock negotiations, role playing, and group negotiation sessions. This is a practical skill that is best honed through guided practice. The course instructor should be actively participating in the mock sessions and providing pointed feedback to help improve your technique.
The best negotiation courses include a coaching component. The instructor provides a series of exercises that are taped or recorded. The student and instructor sit together and review the tape in detail. During the coaching session, the instructor provides insight into mistakes, areas of improvement, and overall performance. An unbiased review from a professional is the best way to improve your negotiation skills.