How to do Better in Negotiations by Practicing in Small Groups

When thinking about negotiation, the first things that come to mind are probably hostage situations or the negotiation of a mega merger between two companies. However, only a few people will ever face this type of situation. Nevertheless, negotiation is part of everyone’s life and has a major impact on everyday outcomes that affect us short or long term. Negotiation is at the center of many common situations, either in your professional career or in private life. Examples are deciding on how to divide the household chores, arguments about who’s picking up the kids from school or negotiating a better phone plan. In a business setting, we all face situations like attending a job interview, presenting work to coworkers or clients or signing a new lease agreement.

Negotiation is an Art and Art Needs Practice

Now there are many ways to learn the art of negotiation. You can of course take a masterclass or an online course, but if you really mean business about being a good negotiator, you will need tons of practice. Negotiation is a subtle art and knowing the theory of negotiation will certainly not enable you master a real life situation.

Techniques and tactics need to flow like you’re in autopilot mode. Imagine for instance that you want to become a pro-boxer. Do you think it would be wise to attend a few training sessions and then sign-up for a pro-fight? Certainly not. Practice makes (almost) perfect and the more you get the better your ability to deal with a real situation.  I actually remember taking a negotiation workshop as an undergraduate student. It left a strong impression. Unfortunately, I never seized the opportunity to practice the material again after that workshop. The benefits of this workshop have somewhat faded over time.

Practicing negotiation in a group at an office desk

Now, how can you avoid this and make sure you keep training and improving your negotiation skills?  Certainly there might be some debating clubs in your area. That’s not a bad start, however you might quickly run out of depth or struggle to find the right people. 

Another option is to meet like-minded people online and start a group together to focus on practicing negotiation skills. Online communications methods are now so well developed that this ought to be the future of learning. Small groups offer many possibilities to collaborate effectively.

Examples of How You can Improve Your Negotiation Skills in Small Groups

  • You discuss theoretical material or courses – everyone can be teacher and student

Instead of everyone reading all materials you can divide the reading among group members. One group member takes a Book by Chris Voss, another reads Caldini’s ‘Influence’ and the third summarizes an online negotiation workshop. You can pull all these resources together and share your knowledge. You can then explain what you learnt to others and decide together what you would like to practice.

  • Practice without concerns

Practicing in a small group with like-minded people allows you to try things out without having to worry about doing things wrong or any consequences. Let your creativity and ideas run free while experimenting with techniques by simulating situations.

  • Share back experiences with your pals

After you have tested your negotiation skills within your group, try it out in a real-life situation. And finally, share your experiences with your group mates. That way, you will be able to take advantage of group synergies and further improve your abilities.

  • Create your own negotiation best practice

After a long collaboration with your group and lengthy practice, you might even decide to create your own negotiation best practices and inspire other people to up-skill!

Practicing negotiation in groups can help you to change your perspective, like a pilot seeing things from above

Each Member Brings a Unique Perspective to the Table

Some members of your negotiation group will probably be specialized in other aspects of negotiation than you are. Some might see things in a different way than you do. It’s always fascinating how people can solve the same task in a totally different way. Since negotiation involves dealing with all kinds of people, it’s also good to have a multitude of different viewpoints when practicing. Last but not least improving negotiation skills is a lot about simulating situations and role play. Together in a group it’s way easier to come up with many different ways to talk to practice and finally apply it in real life.

Besides from your knowledge, personality and time you can also pool your financial resources. For some it might be too much to spend 1000 bucks on an online course. With a group of five you can decide to share resources and get more for less.

How Vennquest Can Help You to Find and Manage Your Group

We created Vennquest to make it easy to start or find groups for practical projects in many different areas. If you’re curious to see how much easier it is to practice skills together in groups then why don’t you sign up and join a group that interests you. We will immediately be in contact with you and help you to find some group members and to get the whole thing started. Join our beta test phase now and finally get the practice that you need to do the things you always wanted to do.

About the Author
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Johann is a Co-Founder of Vennquest. After a few years in Asia, he decided to focus on creating a platform where people can drive their interests and learn new skills by sharing and progressing together with other like-minded people in small groups. In a previous life, he worked in Private Equity and M&A in Europe and Asia.