Learn How to Negotiate with the Skills Club

Imagine this: you’re sitting at the table with your parents, trying to bring up the topic of a transfer program to the UK. Your heart is beating in your throat as you tell them your thoughts. But then, they shut you down faster than Movie Day vouchers sell out. The thing is, you want this really bad, but you just don’t know how to persuade them. 

In comes the Skills Club. Besides imparting life skills like cooking pasta, and career skills like updating your LinkedIn profile, they recently had a session to equip students with the coveted social skill of “the Intelligent Negotiation.”

If you missed the session, don't worry! Here's a quick recap of what was discussed.

This session was conducted by Ms. Renuka J. Menon, an expert in the art of negotiation, who has developed and honed her skills over years of training and consultancy in different companies such as Samsung, Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd., and WASCO Kuantan. 

Ms. Renuka started off by emphasising that negotiation is a skill, not a policy, and stressed that one will fail the negotiation, if you consider it as a policy. 

She then presented three tips that has helped her master negotiation - TPR: Train, Practice and Rehearse. She explained that we need to train to be able to influence the outcome by creating a value for both parties. Essentially, we need to make it a win-win situation. She even suggested going to McDonald’s and observing how a child convinces their parent to buy them a toy!

“You have to be half Sherlock Holmes and half Sigmund Freud,” said Ms. Renuka. 

If that seems like an odd statement, here’s what she meant. We have to do our homework and research the matter from every angle, knowing both the pros and cons, which is the ‘half Sherlock Holmes.’ Ms. Renuka suggested finding common ground to solve the issue; you should be able to envision reaching an agreement.

As for the ‘half Sigmund Freud,’ we need to understand the psychology of the other person in the situation. As negotiators, we have to practice controlling our dominant emotion in the negotiation. She explained that we cannot have anger or anxiety as our dominant emotion, or we will fail the negotiation. 

“Consider these two examples - negotiating a raise with your boss and negotiating the sale of a car at the dealership. What are the dominant emotions in each negotiation?” asked Ms. Renuka, prompting some interactivity from the participants.

She explained that the first situation has anxiety as the dominant emotion, while the second one has excitement instead. 

“Practise negotiation with your friends, and be open to their criticism,” Ms. Renuka suggested. “That way, you can improve on body language as well as tone.”

The session ended there, with Ms. Renuka opening the floor for questions. Many asked about how to deal with a power imbalance, to which she gave three tips:

  1. Have clarity
  2. Don’t start negotiations without proper information
  3. Learn to say NO

If you found this interesting, follow the Skills Club on Instagram to find out what their next topic will be!