Negotiation skills and their importance for a Project Manager

the negotiation

Negotiation skills for a project manager are absolutely essential and refining them will make it possible to lay the foundations for a successful project.

The Project Managers must, in fact, hold different roles simultaneously: They are leaders, mediators, delegators, and even negotiators.

So let’s see in this article why negotiation skills are important for project managers and how they can be developed and improved.

Why negotiation is important for project managers

In reality, every day we use our negotiation skills, not only at work but also in everyday life.

From reasoning with a 5-year-old child about what he can eat for breakfast to home budget discussions with the partner. We negotiate in life as well as in project management.

Here are some situations in which the ability to negotiate has a fundamental role for the success of a project; the Project Manager:

  • is involved in strategic negotiations with the suppliers of goods and tools necessary for the execution of the project.
  • is involved in the negotiation with a possible investor in a new project.
  • is involved in negotiations with stakeholders regarding support for a major change in the project. It will be necessary here to explain the reasons for the change in the right way in order to get the consent of the interested parties.

In conclusion, negotiation skills allow project managers to have more solid relationships with stakeholders, have better relationships with customers, and guarantee a more positive work environment.

How a project manager can improve his negotiation skills

As already mentioned, negotiation skills are fundamental for a project manager and to ensure the success of the project in general.

Here are 5 tips in order to improve and develop these skills:

5 tips to improve and develop negotiation skills: Practice

The first step is – as with everything – to do a lot of practice.

Probably, the project manager will find himself negotiating more often than he thinks.

It is important that in these situations, the PM analyses how he feels when he approaches a negotiation situation, how he feels during the negotiation itself, and that he makes an objective post-negotiation analysis.

The analysis will be important because only by analysing his feelings, the project manager will be able to draw the necessary experiences to improve himself in the future.

5 tips to improve and develop negotiation skills: Preparation

It can often happen that a project manager find himself negotiating when he least expects it; but when he knows he is going to negotiate, it is important to devote a little effort to its preparation.

If the project manager knows he is meeting a supplier, for example, he can think in advance about what he wants to get from the agreement.

Moreover, it is also important to consider alternatives, if the first solution is not feasible or is not accepted by the other party.

It is important to have clear in mind what results are optimal, which are acceptable and those that absolutely cannot be accepted.

Here is an example of how this plan can be represented:

  • Better alternative to a negotiated agreement
  • Worst alternative to a negotiated agreement
  • Zone of possible agreement
  • Price or removal point, i.e. the unacceptable solution

In this way, it will be possible to start the negotiation process with more confidence and knowing in concrete terms what result you want to achieve.

However, it is important to remember to remain open also to different points of view. Sometimes, in fact, there may be unknown elements that lead to a change in expectations and desired results.

5 tips to improve and develop negotiation skills: Managing emotions

Conflict situations and negotiations often highlight or make the worst out of people.

It is therefore important for a project manager to prepare and learn how to manage his reactions in a conversation that may be difficult and complicated.
negotiation

5 tips to improve and develop negotiation skills: Allow yourself enough time

It is important to remember that negotiations are often a “work in progress”. It is unlikely that a single meeting will be enough to resolve everything, especially in the case of the most complicated and important negotiations.

And even when the agreement is concluded, we can find ourselves negotiating more precise details or new terms to maintain the project in the right way.

It is therefore important not to hurry and take the necessary time.

5 tips to improve and develop negotiation skills: Listen actively

When preparing for a negotiation, a great effort is made to think about what you are going to say, how to say it, how to respond to what you think the other person will say, etc.

But we often forget that we must also listen actively. Active listening will help identify weaknesses in the other party and help you really understand what the other person wants.

When you listen actively, you are more likely to be able to formulate an answer that the other person considers acceptable.

And that’s what we want.

Negotiation skills for a project manager: Conclusions

Finally, regardless of whether a project manager is involved in formal negotiations or not, it will be easier to carry out the most diverse activities when he has confidence in his negotiation skills.

An aid in this sense can be, for example, a training course based on negotiation skills.

Negotiation is an excellent project management tool and is essential for getting the best for any project.

Negotiation goes beyond the reduction or increase in the price of an offer and is a necessary tool in the daily activities of the project manager.

Like all soft skills, knowing how to have stimulating conversations that result in good results for both parties is something that can always be improved with the time.

With the right knowledge, the structures, the techniques, and some practice, any project manager will be able to face negotiations knowing how to aim at the best for the project and for the organization in general.

Read more about Twproject bootcamps.

One try is worth a million words.

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