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A great negotiator, observed time and time again, does these five things well:

1. Sets the Stage

2. Finds Common Ground

3. Asks with Confidence

4. Embraces the Pause

5. Knows When to Leave

As with any top sportsperson, a negotiator's tools must become reflexive and instinctive. They have to be because in both worlds the window for action and success is narrow. Winning doesn't wait. Opportunity doesn't come around every day. To leverage and maximise these chances, you've got to be ready with multiple tools and the confidence to use them well.

But here's the thing about negotiation: those steps are like waves on the beach. They repeat themselves over and over, especially in a big deal. They repeat between people who are negotiating and within negotiators themselves. The conversation is always going on.

Each stage of every negotiation is a test of a relationship -- and a chance to demonstrate your passion and character. Trust is at the heart of negotiation and long-term success as a negotiator. The five tools are nothing without trust.

Trust is easily broken, and building trust requires a lot of intentionality.

You never know what you don't know, and assumptions kill a negotiation faster than anything else. In a space where trust is generally missing, there is a huge upside for the person who can stand in that gap and "Find Common Ground."

Negotiation is more of an art than a science. Although "Setting the Stage" and "Finding Common Ground" can be quantified by numbers and statistics, the truly gifted negotiators display great intuition and instinct. Data is about the who, when, where and what; intuition and art are about grasping the how and why. It's about the story and conversation, the power of intangibles in "Asking with Confidence", "Embracing the Pause", and "Knowing When to Leave."

Negotiation is most successful when the terms are clear and specific to everyone involved. Whether you are haggling over an item with stallholder at a local market or a multi-million-dollar contract, you're engaged in a critical conversation. The more comfortable you are with that conversation, the better your results will be. The five tools will build that comfort for success, building trust in yourself and trust from others. They will give you the guts to negotiate.

"A Winner's Guide to Negotiating" by Molly Fletcher shares with you secrets from a top sports agent. "If you learn nothing else from me," writes Fletcher, "know this: effective negotiation is a conversation, a relationship, a rhythm built over time. At the heart of my success is managing relationships well so that conversations keep going, stay open, and spark more conversations because the seeds of your next generation are planted in the one you are doing right now.

A negotiation is a story, and a good negotiator is like a bestselling novelist who knows the characters so well that nothing they do is surprising."

Source: Molly Fletcher: A Winner's Guide to Negotiating: How Conversation Gets Deals Done

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