3 traits the best negotiators share

In the higher education culture of shared governance, building buy-in is a critical step of launching any initiative on campus. 

In this atmosphere, effective communication and negotiation skills can be a powerful tool. A recent Harvard Business Review article offers advice for building your negotiation skills from Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessment Systems, professor of business psychology at University College London, faculty member at Columbia University, and author of The Talent Delusion.

Chamorro-Premuzic argues that the ability to negotiate effectively is largely dependent on personality traits—but, he adds, this doesn't mean you can't get better at it. He identifies three key traits that effective negotiators share, as well as how to use them in your next negotiation.

1: Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your emotions and recognize the emotions of others. Individuals with a high level of EQ are more likely to both approach a negotiation with a positive mindset and feel more content with the result, writes Chamorro-Premuzic.

Individuals with a high level of EQ also have more self-control, are generally more likeable, and tend to be more self-aware, he argues. These can be useful characteristics—for example, being likeable can help a negotiator keep everyone at the table engaged over the course of an exhausting conversation.

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2: Cognitive ability is the brain's ability to execute a set of tasks. Studies have shown that higher cognitive ability leads to better strategic decision-making, writes Chamorro-Premuzic.

Perhaps surprisingly, individuals with high cognitive ability also tend to take a more collaborative and cooperative approach to business negotiations, according to one study. Rather than treating the other person as an opponent, these individuals treat them like partners working together to find a mutually satisfactory solution.

3: Self-monitoring is our ability to reflect on our behaviors and how they have impacted others, Chamorro-Premuzic explains. This trait allows people to empathize with the thoughts and feelings that others have about them—an important characteristic for negotiations.

Individuals with high self-monitoring skills can use them to negotiate successfully by paying close attention to social cues and negative feedback, as well as working to form a personal connection with the other people at the negotiating table (Chamorro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review, 8/7).

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