How to Become a Ninja Negotiator

Many managers and leaders find themselves handling complex negotiations at some point in their career. 

Before you arrive at the negotiating table, it’s a wise move to ensure you have several options in the bag for possible favourable outcomes.  

These should include more than you actually expect to achieve, and some alternatives – that is, areas you will be willing to compromise on.  

Having this thought through in advance will make you less likely to appear hesitant to offers during negotiations and will show you have done your homework and won’t be outmanoeuvred. 

So, armed with these, you’re ready to negotiate, employing these tips on becoming an excellent ninja negotiator. 


Change Your Mindset 



Negotiation isn’t just about the negotiating itself, it’s about dealing with people. So, the first thing to remember in your quest to become a ninja negotiator is to acknowledge that you‘re dealing with real human beings. 

Being effective because you are ruthless won’t win you any friends and will make others wary of dealing with you in the future if you develop a reputation for bullish behaviour at the negotiating table.  

Do you know how others perceive you? You might be surprised. Would they consider that you would do anything to win?  


Make it Personal   

Building rapport will help you engage and create stronger working relationships with others. Mutual respect will achieve more than using the negotiation table as an arena to try to meet your personal ambitions. 

One way to achieve this is to take a few minutes before the negotiations to indulge in small talk. Getting to know the other person, however slightly, will make talks go smoother and encourage collaboration. 

Showing warmth and openness will encourage the other person to be drawn to you, with the outcome of them being more open to working to achieve a satisfactory result for both parties. 


Communicate Effectively 

Remember, communication is a two-way process. In other words, sending and receiving the message is equally important.  

To engage in powerful conversations, think about the words you say and how you say them. Are you conveying the right message and covering key points? Be clear and objective. Ask questions that involve more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to help you glean precisely what the other side wants to achieve.  

Visual markers are useful to show you are engaged – so, a nod of the head when the other person is speaking or maintaining eye contact conveys respect for their opinions and requests and builds rapport further. 


Listen Actively 



Listening well is an undervalued skill. But successful negotiations happen when you allow the other person to express their ideas in their own time. 

So, avoid interrupting them in mid-flow and finishing their sentences. Not letting people have their say make them feel they haven’t been heard.  

Pay attention when they are talking rather than planning what you’re going to say next – you’ll lose the thread of what they are saying and create the impression that you’re only interested in your own goals. Actively listening will allow you to pick up on messages behind the words, such as frustration.  

When they’ve finished talking, paraphrase your understanding of what’s been said to ensure you have interpreted the message correctly. 

 Your consideration will hopefully be picked up by the other party when it’s your turn to talk! 


Use Anchoring Bias  

There is a lot of research that suggests the first number or idea mentioned in negotiations is a powerful influence on any talks that follow.  

You can avoid being on the receiving end of this anchoring bias by being the first to make an offer to anchor talks in your favour.  

If the other party anchors first, remember to keep your goals forefront in your mind as you negotiate and remember, you can always walk away if you can’t find an acceptable solution 


Aim for a Win/Win Situation 

No-one wants to work with a selfish individual, and everyone wants to get their point of view across. Its more helpful to engage on even ground and get the best outcome for everyone.  

To avoid dealing with concessions and demands on every single issue, identify those your counterpart cares about that you place less value on. This will enable you to propose concessions on those areas you value less, in return for their willingness to compromise on your highly valued issues. 


Solve Problems 

Negotiations don’t always go to plan.  Misunderstandings can arise, as well as opposing viewpoints that see your talks flounder. 

Having good self-awareness and emotional intelligence will enable you to put yourself in the other persons shoes and see issues from their point of view. This will, in turn, allow you to see how compromises can be reached and an agreeable solution achieved.  


Implement Your Agreement 



Arriving at a decision is the goal of your negotiations.  Examining each potential outcome and weighing up the pros and cons will allow you to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. 

Its worth considering putting multiple offers forward. If your counterpart rejects them all, ask which they preferred most. You can then use this as a point of reference to brainstorm with them to try to reach an acceptable deal. 

This method can, according to Harvard Business School, simultaneously decrease the odds of impasse and promote more creative solutions. 

When you’ve struck a deal, you can help the long-term development of your agreement by agreeing on milestones and deadlines to ensure the agreed outcomes are being met in your contract.   

Additionally, a dispute resolution clause is a wise addition to an agreement to allow for mediation or arbitration if a conflict arises.  


What Next? 

Following these tips will help you develop your negotiating skills and see you achieve your aims.  

Here at Zestfor, we now offer programmes to help you to optimise your leadership skills and personal development and get the best out of your team. If you would like to find out more, then send a quick email here. 


Until next time, 



Can We Help?       

Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.      

Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat, call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, please email our team here.