Business communication can be described as a special process of interaction and interrelation of people, which is inherent in the exchange of knowledge, information and experience. This process involves the achievement of specific goals, the solution of certain problems and the implementation of plans.
Conventionally, business communication consists of two components – it is direct communication, i.e. direct contact between people, and communication indirect, which differs the presence of space-time distance between opponents. As a rule, direct business communication is the most effective, because it is characterized by emotional impact and suggestion, in other words, social and psychological mechanisms are involved in it.
Business communication differs from everyday communication in that it is characterized by setting goals and specific results to be achieved, and tasks that need to be solved. In the process of business communication, in most cases, a person has no opportunity to stop his interaction with his opponent overnight and without any losses.
Everyday communication, in turn, does not involve setting goals, and it can be interrupted at any point in time.
Among the forms of business communication are business conversations, meetings, speeches and negotiations. And it is negotiations that are its main form.
People have to negotiate almost throughout their lives – in all cases where it is necessary to come to an agreement, to exchange promises and commitments, etc.
Usually negotiations take the form of a conversation, the main topic of which are issues of interest to the interlocutors (negotiating parties), and the task of negotiations is to establish cooperative ties.
But negotiations may differ in terms of goals. Thus, they can be aimed at concluding contracts, carrying out certain works, reaching an agreement on cooperation, conflict resolution, etc. And the parties to the negotiations wish to reach mutual agreements on those issues in which their interests collide, and properly withstand the confrontation that may arise in the negotiation process.
But in order to negotiate skillfully, anyone must have certain skills.
- Know how to solve problems
- Know how to communicate with other people
- Manage their emotions.
Also, it should be taken into account that at the negotiating table can meet people with different experience in negotiations, with different personal characteristics and education.
Based on this rather large variety of characteristics, some negotiations can be radically different from others. In some cases, negotiations are relatively easy, while in others they are extremely tense; in some cases, the opponents can agree without problems, while in others, it can be very difficult to find common ground and common ground. All this shows that the skill of negotiation needs to be learned.
The basics and specifics of business communication
As we have already said, business communication should be distinguished from everyday communication. The main distinguishing features of business communication are:
- Setting goals and objectives
- Drawing up a plan of action
- Identification and choice of strategy
- Determination and choice of tactics
- Achieving a specific result
Setting goals and objectives implies that each participant in the negotiation process (individually and jointly) establishes specific results that can and should be achieved through negotiations. This is what negotiations are for, otherwise they would be meaningless, or they would be just an ordinary day-to-day communication for the purpose of exchanging information.
Making a plan of action is necessary so that each of the opponents knows exactly what steps need to be taken to achieve the goals and objectives. Each point in the plan can also be designed to achieve intermediate goals. Both the plan itself and the intermediate goals can be called a negotiation map, and by referring to it you can clearly see at what stage the result is achieved and whether it is achieved at all.
Defining and choosing a strategy means defining a way of action, a general, not detailed plan for achieving the set result, which covers the whole time period during which the negotiations will take place. A strategy can also be called a way to achieve a goal and a model of behavior to which the negotiator will adhere in the negotiation process.
Defining and selecting tactics involves selecting a component part of the negotiation process that includes the theoretical and practical aspects of preparing and conducting negotiations through the use of specific methods and techniques. Negotiation methods and techniques, in turn, can and should vary, depending on the specifics of each particular stage of the negotiation process. Tactics include research, development, preparation, and implementation of all negotiation components: expressing one’s position, using arguments (to attack and defend), using counterarguments, etc.
It is also worth mentioning the difference between strategy and tactics, since many people often confuse the two terms. Imagine that you are lost in an unknown terrain. The strategy here will be a general analysis of the situation, orientation, assessment of your capabilities and resources, as well as determining the direction of travel. The tactics will be the ability to move, to bypass the obstacles encountered on the way, to take cover from the dangers, etc.
It is also interesting that it is necessary to have a strategy and tactics. If you have only tactics, the result may be achieved, but the result will be unknown. And if you have only one strategy, then you’ll know what result you need, but the ways of achieving it you won’t have.
The achievement of a specific result is the final result of the whole negotiation process, because that is what the negotiation process is all about. The only thing that can be said here is that the result can be either the achievement or non-achievement of a goal. If no result is achieved in the negotiation process, the negotiations are inconclusive, a situation considered to be the worst possible.
How to apply the knowledge of negotiation in practice?
The skill of negotiation can be called one of the most necessary for a person living in modern society. And it can be useful not only to those whose professional activity is connected with communication, but also to people who face official negotiations very rarely. Even quite ordinary everyday interaction with people around us at some point may require the ability to negotiate and find compromises and mutually beneficial solutions: these may be situations when it is necessary to settle a dispute, resolve a conflict, bargain to bring down the price, simply maintain the conversation, etc. But, of course, the main area of application of negotiator skills is the business sphere.
Meetings, business conversations with colleagues, managers and subordinates, meetings with business partners to discuss cases or conclude contracts, job interviews, etc. – All these cases are those where a person simply cannot do without the ability to communicate competently, reach mutual understanding, find compromises and mutually beneficial solutions.
If a person is able to find common interests and points of contact with other people, he opens up before him truly enormous prospects. The ability to negotiate allows to achieve goals, ranging from very small and ending with vital, to move up the career ladder, to get out of difficult situations with his head held high, to establish contacts with the right people, make friends and acquaintances. Often this skill is useful in personal life, because, for example, in the family, too, it is often necessary to negotiate. All this allows us to conclude that the skills of a negotiator can be useful to a person always and everywhere.
How to negotiate?
Conducting business negotiations, the purpose of which is to conclude an agreement beneficial to all parties, is not an easy process. It consists of several stages. And each stage has its own characteristics.
At this stage depends on 90 percent of success. At the preparatory stage it is necessary:
Identify the problem, find those who can solve it:
- Understand the interests of all parties, clearly formulate a plan, a program of business talk;
- If necessary, select representatives of the delegation;
- To organize a meeting, take into consideration all the organizational aspects related to the preparation for the negotiation process.
Requires cautious behavior. It is not recommended to start bargaining right away. Initially, it is necessary to establish contact with the partner, to find out what his interests are.
Allows the resolution of controversial situations that often arise during a business conversation. At this stage there is an exchange of proposals, the parties determine what they do not understand.
Parties seek to achieve a desired goal by means of concessions, exchange of what has a different price, value for each party.
The pre-final stage of negotiations. It is not recommended to rush. It is better to think once again whether the agreement reached is beneficial or not.
The final stage: consolidation of agreements.
Requires obligatory registration of the agreement reached, to avoid parties rejection of the decision that has been taken during negotiations.
Principles of negotiations
- Attract the attention of your interlocutor. If you aren’t able to do this, why should you say anything at all? Further negotiations will be doomed to failure. It is necessary to implement this principle at the beginning of negotiations.
- Interest the interlocutor. When the partner shows a desire to negotiate, it means that he or she understands the usefulness of the proposed activities and will actively engage with them.
- Justify in detail your beliefs and options for overcoming the conflict. This can be done by using the interest you just aroused, and arguing how the implementation of the proposals will help to overcome the conflict for the benefit of the partner. As a result, you can convince the partner that he or she will act reasonably by agreeing to the proposed ways of resolving the conflict.
- Identify the partner’s interests and remove doubts. The partner agreed with expediency of the offered options, but he expresses doubts that they really will be realized and in his interests. It is necessary to neutralize his remarks and to refute them, proving their advantages for the partner.
- The main principle is to convert the results achieved during negotiations into a final solution to neutralize the negative consequences of the conflict.
Types and forms of business negotiations
Business negotiation is a verbal conversation with the personal participation of the parties concerned.
It can be bilateral or multilateral. These types of business negotiations can take the form of dispute, discussion, persuasive, and constructive or instructional conversations. In turn, a multilateral business conversation can also be organized in the form of a meeting, a session, a so-called “round table” conversation, and a presentation.
The most common forms of business negotiations are
The parties exchange opinions. The process is mutual. Each party takes on board all the considerations, positions, and facts expressed, regardless of who the author is.
Transmission of information on one side. As a rule, in the form of instruction, instruction. The goal is to get the other party to reach a desired agreement.
Inclination of the interlocutor to the desired goal by means of persuasion with the use of logical reasoning, having the weight of arguments, serious facts for the solution of a particular problem.
In other words, this form of business negotiations can be called a verbal contest. Each side tries to defend its opinion.
A kind of dispute, but softer, since in a discussion, the position is defended on the basis of arguments, evidence, proven facts.
The following types of business negotiations are also distinguished:
- Formal – according to protocol, according to a strict procedure;
- Informal – an informal conversation that does not end with the signing of the same agreements;
- External – with business partners, customers of the company;
- Internal – within the organization.
Rules and peculiarities of business negotiations
The rules of business behavior in negotiations, if we talk about the cultural aspect, are specific, which is influenced by certain factors. An example – the rules may depend on the norms of behavior of participants of the negotiation process, conditioned by their national, civil affiliation. For example, the rules of negotiation among Western businessmen are not always compatible with the “attitudes” adopted in Asian countries. Therefore, if it is necessary to reach an agreement with a foreign partner, the main rule of business negotiations is to take into account the cultural, national and other specifics of the country of which your partner is a citizen.
Basic rules of business negotiations
It is necessary to gather information not only about the partner, his goals, motivations, but also to work out the content of the future conversation. This rule should be observed at the preparatory stage of the negotiation process.
Drawing up a negotiation plan
This rule simplifies the process of conducting a business conversation, as well as allows you to have at hand ways to resolve conflict situations, if any.
Control of the environment
It is important to choose the right location for a business negotiation. The right choice is influenced by the environment, the length of the negotiation process, and other factors. An interesting fact! Practice shows that he who organizes the meeting is more successful in negotiations.
Restraint in the statements of the opposite party
Do not reject the thoughts, ideas of the opponent as soon as he expressed them. It is recommended to write them down, analyze them, and, having taken the initiative, discuss the opinions, ideas of the opponent with him.
Important! Discussion of easy issues should be held at the beginning of business negotiations. This allows you to create a favorable business atmosphere for solving more complex problems.
Features of business negotiations depend on the tactics of their conduct.
- Ultimatum tactics involves tough negotiating, when one of the parties immediately lays out their solution. The result – either the opponent will agree or leave. Minus – possible loss of a potential partner.
- Emotional swing tactics, when techniques are used to change the mood of the opponent. Accusations and nice words are expressed. Such behavior prevents the other party from focusing on their proposal. The result is that the opponent agrees to the proposal, provided he or she is psychologically unstable.
- The ultimatum, which is given at the end of the conversation. It is a symbiosis of the above two tactics. First communication, then a sharp ultimatum. The result is that the weakened opponent agrees to the proposal.
- The method of imposition , when one of the parties aims to break the negotiation script and impose their vision of the business conversation.
- Fast pace of negotiation. The opponent is determined by the duration of the negotiation process, for example, 40 minutes. And the other party immediately declares that the negotiations will last only 15 minutes. And she is the winner, because she conducted the preparation of negotiations with the expectation of 15 minutes, and the opponent prepared for a 40-minute conversation.
Professional ethics of business conversations
Business professional negotiation ethics include many rules that are mandatory for business people to follow. Included in their list are the norms of business culture ethics. The latter represents the culture of business, which is expressed in the method of self-organization, which is aimed at the efficiency of making a profit from the economic activity carried out. Inextricably linked to business culture is the etiquette of business negotiations, the norms of which relate to:
- Peculiarities of the organization of a business meeting;
- The behavior of negotiators;
- The choice of clothing and accessories;
- The rituals of drinking alcoholic beverages;
- Speech, gestures, and much more.
Conducting business negotiations is not an easy sphere of activity for businessmen of any level. The organization, carrying out of negotiation process has a lot of peculiarities and demands to follow certain rules. It is necessary to be able to conduct a business conversation competently and achieve the set goal.
This is undoubtedly a rather specific area of work for business people, which has a great weight in their activities and affects the development of business. Therefore, it is necessary to have a large complex of knowledge, to possess the skills that allow a businessman to successfully achieve a favorable agreement for him even at very difficult business negotiations.
How to negotiate properly?
Daniel Galper, CEO and founder of Grow Food
Take the time to prepare thoroughly. You should have a clear idea of the person with whom you will negotiate: know the strengths and weaknesses of your opponent, his behavior during the meeting and the situations when the negotiations are deadlocked.
Social networks, speeches at conferences and in the media, plus some insights can help. Before the meeting, briefly and succinctly talk about your business, your achievements, your company’s growth prospects.
I do not recognize pompous seriousness in negotiations, so I do not use business cards and prefer to friend the person on Facebook right away.
For example, it took me a long time to persuade our first investor, Alexander Borodich, to meet us on Facebook. Then we finally met in a bar – had a great conversation, and afterwards – received an angel investment. Warm, friendly relations always work more effectively.
2. Clearly define what you want to achieve.
Yegor Guriev, CEO and founder of Playkey.
You can talk a lot about etiquette and negotiation best practices, but in my opinion, there are several basic clear and understandable rules which influence the outcome of the meeting.
- First, you need to clearly understand the goal of the negotiation, what you want to achieve.
- The second is to fix the goal before the negotiation, for example: “After the meeting on the same day we will sign a contract with such and such terms, and the money will come into the company’s account on such and such a date.” Even if you’re not sure that this is possible, set a target and aim for it.
An example of a good outcome of a meeting:
- You got the money transferred.
- Both parties signed off on the contact
- You were given the contact of the decision maker
Example of a bad outcome:
- The contact ended with the phrase “I’ll think about it.”
- You were asked to send a presentation/additional information
There are three key steps in a negotiation that get your business partner’s attention and should fit within the first three minutes of the meeting:
Stage 1: A clear presentation of yourself and your project. “Hi! We at Playkey are solving the problem of those computer game lovers who can’t play right now with a weak computer at home. And according to our data, there are about a billion of them in the world.
Step 2: Explaining to your interlocutor why you approached him specifically – be sure to pay attention to the significance of your opponent. “We approached you because you work for a leading company with such-and-such results and have done this in such-and-such a direction.
Step 3: Offer. “We offer you to earn X million more every month in this way.”
That is all. From here comes other nuances of building a presentation.
Further discussion should be built only around your offer and the mutual interest of the parties. Such a scenario would give maximum effect with minimum time expenditures.
Do not succeed – try again and again. Everything comes with experience. There is a classical rule of 10 000 hours, described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Geniuses and Outsiders. Why Some Get Everything and Others Get Nothing.” The formula goes like this: anyone can become a guru in his business if he spends 10,000 hours on it. Start with the first one now.
3. You have to know everything about your product
Andrey Lyamin, Shiptor Development Director
The logistics industry involves negotiations with partners from large international companies, which means stress for the team, careful preparation and developing solutions for unforeseen circumstances.
The number of negotiations increases every year, and I have developed four clear rules for myself that I try to follow:
- The first is that you must know absolutely all the details about your product or service.
About a year ago, we participated in three-way negotiations with a large international company. During the meeting, the other party, our colleagues with whom we were planning to implement the project, tried to “put us in the puddle”. We seized the initiative just in time and brought counterarguments, because we had studied the project down to the last detail and explained to our colleagues in detail why our presence would bring more profit for both parties. We won that fight.
- Second, work out your exit strategy.
It is better if you run through with the team all the objections that may arise in the negotiations in advance. Decide for yourself what terms you are ready to accept, what you will offer to partners in case of a crisis.
- Third – forget about all the tricks of the negotiation books.
Cliché phrases from books by Dale Carnegie, the techniques of mirroring – all of this looks unnatural and irritating.
- And fourth, do not be afraid to ask questions if you do not understand.
For fear of appearing stupid in negotiations, important points are often left out. If you do not understand something, ask a question, clarify, and speak again. The gap will still come up, and the consequences can be serious.
4. Choose a suit to match the meeting
Andrei Filatov, co-founder of Privee tailoring atelier
You may think that the story of your meeting participants begins with a presentation of your projects or ideas. It only seems that way to you. From the moment you walked into a restaurant or a meeting room, your suit already begins to tell a story about you.
Costume etiquette involves not only the right combination of colors and clothing elements, but also their appropriateness. It would be wrong to wear a strict suit to a “no-tie” meeting, as well as to wear a polo and a loose-fitting jacket to a formal reception. How you are perceived will directly affect the outcome of the negotiations.
A good suit is the best way to convey the characteristics of the interlocutor – focus, neatness, attention to detail (and vice versa).
If you wear it during the negotiations, remember that the jacket must fit perfectly, not jutting out at the waist, cuffs of shirts should stick out from under the sleeves by 1,5-2 cm and the width of a tie must be commensurate to the width of the lapels of the jacket.
Before correctly and convincingly presenting your thoughts at the negotiations, choose a good suit, shoes and accessories. You’d be surprised how much of an impact it will have on the outcome of the meeting.
5. Think positively
Arsen Lavrentiev, CEO and founder of Taboo.
I think that the most important rule – understand what your customers or partners need.
Second – analyze the information and always give feedback. When you understand your opponent’s needs, analyze them and give your opinion and ideas, the pros and cons that you see, share your experiences. Honest feedback is always better to dispose of the interlocutor.
Thirdly, think positively! It helps to find additional points of contact with your partner and look at difficult issues from a different angle. A person who thinks narrowly and cannot see the problem from a different angle is unlikely to succeed in a business discussion.
Fourth, look for different opportunities. During business negotiations, no one knows for sure what they will lead to. Focus on the details of the meeting and you may find non-trivial ideas for collaboration.
6. Be prepared for any outcome of the negotiation
George Karakeyan, CEO and founder of the Organika agency
When you go to a negotiation, it’s important to be calm about the outcome. To avoid worrying about it, think that they will end in nothing.
Gather as much information about the client: if the meeting is a guest, I necessarily communicate with the staff, I can chat with the secretary, security guards. It seems senseless, but it will give you an idea of the atmosphere in the office, an understanding of the communication style adopted by the company. This is information you did not have before.
There are times when you come to negotiations and your colleagues are too tense and serious – you can try to lighten the mood. But don’t go overboard – it’s probably the way things are done here, so don’t break tradition.
If you feel that your colleagues are overtly negative to you, remember, this is not the deal you had planned to make, try to convey your position and politely say goodbye – you will save yourself a lot of time.
If the interests aligned – great, no – goodbye. Be sure to find partners with whom you will be on the same page and agree on the price for your services and scope of work.
Of course, there are people with the only goal in mind “to sell at any price” – it’s wrong. Such managers are always bad for business.
7. Speak only on the merits.
Any meeting requires preparation. Both appearance and behavior during the negotiation – everything affects the results.
The smart decision is to gather as much information as possible in advance about the person with whom you will have to communicate: his interests, habits, negotiating behavior and business tactics.
Come to the meeting on time, or better yet, 10-15 minutes earlier, so that you can talk to your partners in a relaxed atmosphere and tune in. Put your phone on airplane mode for the duration of the negotiations: calls and notifications are distracting and annoying (and not just for you).
If you are meeting for the first time, I recommend making a short introduction: introduce yourself, the company’s business and products, and communicate your expectations for the negotiations.
During the discussion, behave confidently, speak only on the substance, listen to the interlocutor. A huge advantage when you speak not only about your own interests, but also to take initiatives that are beneficial to the other party. In this way, the negotiations will end in a “win-win” format – when both sides win.
8. Write down all agreements
Arsen Nersisyan, founder of Orator.Club, a private speaking club
Almost my entire day consists of meetings and negotiations – with club members, corporate clients and partners. When going to a meeting, the first thing I always observe the golden rule is to arrive in advance.
Late arrival is usually perceived as a sign of disrespect for the interlocutor and the business in general. Stand up, greet your guest, shake his hand – all these standard signs still work and form your image.
Don’t forget about the external aspect. This, too, affects the outcome of the meeting. Clothing should be organic and appropriate to the circumstances.
In addition to that, I always try to record the agreements made in writing. The interpretation of what two people say is always different, so I try to seize the initiative – to write everything down myself, and then read it to the interlocutor. Sometimes it is even possible to win more favorable conditions for oneself.