What can soft skills do for you in negotiation? Open important things: ears, minds, dialogues, resolution pathways, and more.
This is because soft skills have the ability to engender trust which, in turn, facilitates cooperation, collaboration and decision-making. Negotiations with and without trust are simply very different.
Overall, soft skills imbue an interaction in such a way that creates an atmosphere that feels safe to emote, regroup, be challenged and then reason and advance.
Some examples of soft skills are:
- Listening and acknowledging
- Reading the room (be cognizant of the collective, as well as the individual, dynamics)
- Using body language that conveys and fosters openness when talking and listening
- Comfortably allowing emotive expression
- Keeping patient
- Encouraging manageability of the process; inspiring confidence that the conflict is resolvable
- Speaking mindfully (words, tone and inflection)
- Approaching with an interest-based focus (makes one feel understood)
- Incorporating challenges in tune with a personally important purpose
- Directing attention to possibilities, and away from what cannot be changed (empowerment rather than powerlessness)
These techniques are not substitutes for hard skills – intellectual, experiential, knowledge-based, etc. A negotiator or mediator whose style embodies both, however, can significantly enhance the process of deconstructing obstacles to negotiation and resolution, as well as client relations.
Parties’ satisfaction begets appreciation for their representatives’ choices. When parties feel they and their needs were well taken care of – from the point of mediator selection, to session experience, to the note on which the process ends, the experience fosters loyalty, future reliance and referrals.
As a matter of prudence and practice management, reinforce settlement efforts by involving a mediator with a combination of these qualities, rather than taking the risk of coming up short.