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Tips for Giving Negotiation Feedback

The Scotwork Team

Feedback is one of the best ways we can improve our negotiation skills. 

Perhaps you are prepping for your next big sit-down with a major client. Maybe you've just been playing around with your colleagues and trying out a sales training game. No matter what, giving and receiving feedback can make a massive difference in your approaches to negotiation.

Data from Gallup shows that 80% of employees who have received meaningful feedback in the past week are considered to be fully engaged. Research from Workleap says that 96% of employees think that receiving regular feedback is a good thing. Even though these stats on giving feedback speak more to a generalised employee experience rather than specifically negotiation, they do show that everyone likes to receive a little bit of praise and guidance.

Let's take a look at what you might wish to include in a round of feedback for negotiators.

Send the feedback immediately

Though it might be tempting to wait around and find a point where you can sit down with your colleagues to discuss outcomes and details from the negotiation, it is actually better to just send your feedback as soon as possible.

By sending feedback immediately, the events of the negotiation are still within everyone's mind. You have more of a chance of accurately remembering events, and so will the feedback recipient.

Remember, people are not the same as their behaviours

Make sure that anything passed along is constructive feedback. It is far too easy to critique people when we instead mean to critique their actions. When passing along feedback, make sure it is in a respectful and constructive manner that focuses on actions, not the people themselves. 

As an example, your partner interrupts the other party multiple times during the negotiation process. Whether they do so deliberately or subconsciously doesn't matter; it can come across as dismissive. Encouraging your partner to give the other party space to fully articulate their points before responding can help to create a more collaborative discussion overall.

Don't pass along your own styles or preferences

Everyone has their preferred style and way of flexing their negotiation skills. When passing along feedback to improve future negotiations, don't simply pass along your own style or preference. Imagine if you were the one to receive feedback, and all it said was to try a new strategy that didn't fit with your communication style. It would be frustrating, right?

Though it can be tempting to pass along some new tip or trick you have just picked up in a negotiation training course, you need to consider whether or not your partner actually asked for this new strategy. Offering uncontrolled feedback in this way is not considerate and could see you passing on tips that may not be the best. Feedback is not a chance for you to big up your own abilities, but instead is an opportunity to help build your colleague's skills.

Start with the positives

Positive feedback should always come first when a colleague asks for advice. If the aim is building negotiation competency, you need to make sure that what you say is framed positively. You might have some valid constructive criticism that you need to pass along, but starting the discussion with positive feedback rather than negative feedback helps to establish things on a good note.

Even if you do have negative feedback to pass along, see how you can frame it in a way that sounds more positive and productive than just "Don't do this thing."

As an example, your partner might quickly accept an initial offer. Your feedback should acknowledge that this suggests a willingness to reach an agreement, something the other party might value. However, future negotiations should see you work together to explore the offer in greater detail to see if a potential counteroffer can be made. Not only does this potentially lead to a more comprehensive discussion at the table, but it can also lead to better outcomes for all.

Offer specific examples

General feedback helps no one. Unless you can give specific examples of where improvements could be made, your colleague could fail to recognise their behaviour or approach that needs to be adjusted. 

Saying "Your statements were too vague" is not helpful. Which statements? All of them? If your partner feels like they strongly contributed to the discussion, they might disagree and not take any of your feedback on board. 

Instead, you might offer feedback that looks more like:

"You made a strong opening statement, but your follow-up arguments seemed unfocused. Let's try to maintain momentum and keep our statements close to the conversation."

This gives a precise example of vagueness during the negotiations and offers constructive advice for improvement in the future.

How to move forward after a negotiation

Whether you got exactly what you were after or you need to head back to the table for another round, taking time to sit down and review the negotiation with your partner can be invaluable. Remember, star athletes regularly review their games with their coaches, even when they win. Treat negotiation the same way and always look for a good path forward.

Set clear and realistic goals

If you have had a negotiation go sideways, it can be tempting to make a goal along the lines of "Let's win the next negotiation!"

We all know that the negotiation process is just not that predictable. Instead of setting these goals that you might miss time and time again, think about what you did in the last negotiation and what you can change to do better next time.

Document any agreements

Go back over your notes and minutes from the previous meeting and document any agreements that have been made so far. No matter how small or inconsequential you might think something to be, ensure that it is recorded. If you have to circle back to it later on in other negotiations, you need to have a clear idea of what was discussed and/or agreed upon previously. Ensure you send your summary of agreements to the other party so they can also sign off on it to ensure you are both on the same page.

Nurture the relationships

Even if the latest negotiation session ends on something of a sour note, make sure to nurture the relationship with the other party. Sending a quick thank you via email or even a phone call helps to show your goodwill. While you focus on your own performance and potentially gathering feedback for a colleague, a grateful note to those across the table also won't go amiss.

Feedback helps us all grow

Feedback is crucial if we are to become better negotiators. We can use it to analyse tactics employed during talks, or we could use it to help mentor a more junior colleague. One of the best ways we can improve as negotiators is if we have someone looking out for us and being willing to offer feedback. If someone offers you the opportunity to give them feedback, make sure that you keep it positive and actionable. 

Assessing the value within your company and discovering who needs support and where is never easy, but Scotwork is here to help. Our experienced team is ready to help you get the feedback you need to grow and reach new heights. If you are ready to build confidence and empower your team for the next negotiation, get in touch with us today.

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