Listening is Your Secret Weapon as a Negotiator: How to Improve Your Skills
We all know that one person who is skilled at handling any argument, backing the other party into a corner, and often making them wish they had not started a debate at all as negotiating is their secret weapon! For many, this is a natural art that is built on through the years with practice and often a variety of different educational sources to include attending a variety of communication classes, participating on debate teams, and more. If you are this person, however, and you are striving toward a law degree, it is vital to take as many courses on negotiating as possible, and fine tune that skill first and foremost!
Arguing, and doing it well, is important—and if you are studying to be a trial attorney it will be a critical component of your career—but in negotiations it all begins with knowing your ‘opponent.’ Before you worry about anything else regarding a pending negotiation, do extensive homework on the other party. Information is always key, and in learning about the other side, research their background, reasons why they are involved in the deal or the dispute, and know as much about their legal team as possible—including speaking with others who may have negotiated with them previously. Walking into the room with as much knowledge as possible, gives you the chance then to do the most important thing: listen.
As most of us know, it is easier to say you are going to be a good listener than to do it. This is especially true during negotiations when the discussion may become contentious. You and your client may feel provoked, sending everything off track, and causing you to quickly forget your intention. While you may have written down notes about the other party along with variations on arguing during negotiations, focus also on a list of questions to ask them during the process.
Remind yourself to listen as they answer and give you hints regarding what their bottom line is—and if you really begin to have trouble with the listening process, try giving yourself time limits as the other side speaks and you continue to listen and focus on doing so. As the process continues, you should find this type of action to be surprisingly rewarding. And as you continue to practice it, your credibility as a negotiator will grow.
Are you interested in becoming a skilled lawyer and negotiator? Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your 4-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.