Crucial Negotiation Skills Every Project Manager Should Have

Project managers often act as Jack of all trades because they need to handle every aspect of the process from start to finish. It makes project management extremely difficult to master, particularly if you know that hidden obstacles pop up every now and then.

A report states that over 40% of organizations don’t understand the value of project management, which means they cannot grasp the sheer scope of managers’ responsibilities. Negotiation abilities are one of those frequently overlooked skills that every project manager needs to adopt, but some of them don’t really know how to do it. 

If you want to learn it, keep reading to see crucial negotiation skills every project manager should have.

1. Be prepared for negotiations

Preparation skills are critical to the success of your negotiation process. After all, if you don’t know everything there is to learn about the fellow negotiators, how do you expect to surprise them and convince them to accept your point of view?

The goal is to anticipate the needs and requests of the opposing party, prepare a good answer, and prove that your standpoint is relevant and trustworthy. 

Jake Gardner says no one can catch you off guard when you prepare well: “That way, you don’t need to improvise, make poor excuses, and give more than you have to.”

2. Communicate clearly and directly

Another precious skill is to communicate clearly and directly. Some project managers tend to hide their requests until they hear the other party, but experience taught us that things work differently in the vast majority of situations. 

If you state your demands openly in the early stages of negotiations, it will serve as an anchor that cannot be neglected anymore. Even if you agree to a compromise later, it will not go too far away from the anchor request.  

3. Calmness and emotional intelligence

The winner takes it all is almost never the true purpose of negotiations. On the contrary, it’s a step-by-step process that should lead to win-win resolutions, particularly in project management. This is exactly why we recommend staying focused and calm all the way through the negotiation process. 

Be patient and don’t succumb to emotions quickly – it will only get you so far and you will probably end up getting less than you expected and hoped for. Always try to understand the opponent and find a way to indulge both parties. 

4. Negotiations with multiple stakeholders simultaneously

As a project manager, you will likely negotiate with multiple stakeholders simultaneously. We are not only talking about your clients but also about team members, internal budget planners, outsourcing agencies, vendors, suppliers, and so on. It’s a daunting job for most project managers, but you have to keep it under control and learn to multitask, said John O. from Mimy.

5. Accept a win-win negotiation philosophy

We already mentioned the importance of win-win situations in project management, but it is necessary to point it out once again as a separate negotiation skill. Your goal is not to see the client or any other stakeholder losing. 

The goal is exactly the opposite as you should think about alternatives and business benefits for every party involved. Don’t forget that you will probably cooperate with the same clients again, so you don’t want to achieve a one-time victory and lose them for good. There is enough room for everyone if you embrace the win-win approach.

6. Excellent communication skills

Great communicators make excellent negotiators. This practically means that you ought to nurture and develop communication skills in order to become a sound project manager. Here’s what you need to work on:

  • Improve written communication for negotiations primarily based on emails and text messages
  • Improve verbal communication because the majority of negotiations take place in a face-to-face meeting
  • Improve non-verbal communication because some scientists believe it makes 93% of our total communication

7. Learn from mistakes

Finally, you need to learn from mistakes in order to perfect negotiation skills and earn better conditions for your projects. Great negotiators are not born but rather developed. Keep this statement in mind because it reveals that practice makes perfect. 

If you don’t draw valuable conclusions from earlier negotiations, you cannot expect to make progress and become a more skilled communicator in the future. Therefore, you should pay attention to your mistakes and eliminate them as soon as possible.

The Bottom Line

If you want to become a perfect project manager, you have to develop your negotiation prowess. We showed you seven major skills to strive for, but you are the one who has to utilize our tips and master the art of negotiation in project management.

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