Effective negotiation is essential to set up deals, settle issues, solve problems, and reach mutually beneficial agreements between different individuals and groups in various personal and professional spheres. The principal key to effective negotiation is clear-cut communication. Negotiation tactics after all are dependent on an exchange of ideas, the sharing of relevant information and in the understanding of existing differences. No negotiation training worth its salt fails to stress on the importance of good speaking, listening and understanding skills.
In order to bring about effective negotiation, it is wise to approach the negotiation table with a good grounding of the issues at hand. For a contract negotiation, for instance, it is very important to have accurate data and a good idea of the kind of things that can be possibly negotiated. In a conflict negotiation, it is always advisable to obtain some knowledge of the people involved and their psychology. Knowing what and with whom one is dealing with can help one decide on the negotiation skills to be used in a particular situation.
It will also be useful to have some negotiation strategies planned out and to outline the manner in which the talks are to take place. Emotions and tempers can often run high during negotiations. It is better if both parties, at the very beginning, establish behavior guidelines and agree to stick to certain civil standards.
It will help to be upfront about mutual expectations and the mutual benefits that might be gained from the negotiations. Ideally, for effective negotiation, it is best to focus attention on shared matters of interest rather than on individual issues. Facts and feelings are better presented in a calm, rational and well thought-out manner than with any aggressive or personal inflections. It is important to listen actively to what the other party is saying and display a willingness to understand their concerns. Poor listening can only lead to further misunderstanding and prevent the reaching of a proper solution.
Once both parties have defined and explained their interests, they can compare mutual needs and explore different options for settling these with a win-win focus. Negotiating in a cooperative style, both parties may agree to make certain concessions and trade certain items for the sake of a reasonable agreement. Negotiations in this manner, however, cannot work if one party has the upper hand in crucial matters and sees no benefit in ceding to the other party's requirements.