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Negotiating is no easy task – it often involves the various parties making concessions they do not want to make in order to achieve a common goal. In fact, negotiating can be so difficult that operations may wind up being paused for weeks, months or even years in some particular occasions because no one wants to budge and meet the other side halfway.

One example of how sticky negotiations can be is easily seen in the contract battle between integrated managed care consortium Kaiser Permanente and the California Nurses Association. Both sides became so entrenched in their position that neither party could even decide on a place to meet to hold the conversation. The Sacramento Business Journal reported that the two organizations set their own location and refused to meet up at a neutral spot.

At the end of the day, both parties wound up slinging mud at each other and, two months later, negotiations are still ongoing, according to the Kaiser Permanente website.

"Their refusal to attend bargaining at the nurses' home shows the same lack of respect we experience in their failure to listen to the RNs' concerns about cuts in patient care," Karen Chan, Kaiser division director for the union, told the news source.

Perfecting the art of negotiation
Negotiations will never be easy, there are just too many variables involved that can quickly turn into obstacles. Everything from schedules to resource allocation can become sticking points that delay the progress of these conversations.

Unrefined negotiation skills can hinder company growth, particularly when it comes to key business executives and leaders. These people often play a pivotal role in key discussions, whether it is with shareholders, business partners or different department leaders. If they do not have the skills to navigate these conversations deftly, they may be unable to push their directives forward. Failures at the negotiating table may even lead to some personal frustrations.

However, as is the case with many communication skills, negotiation is not a natural-born talent. Sure, some people may certainly find that negotiating comes easier to them than it does their colleagues. However, perfecting the art of negotiation only comes with the proper training and experience. In other words, it is a learned skill, not something people are simply good or bad at.

With adequate training under their belts, employees and business leaders will be much better prepared to handle negotiations. They can initiate these communications with confidence in their ability to guide the conversation to an outcome that will benefit all parties. They can identify potential conflicts and learn how to navigate around them. They will be better able to build trust with all parties involved in the negotiations as well, as they strive to find a solution that can help everyone walk away with satisfactory outcomes.

Regardless of whether you are a project leader, a company executive or anything in between, learning negotiation skills can be a huge boon to your everyday work life.