Relationships are complex, and business relationships are no better than personal ones. You are often left second guessing meanings, questioning outcomes and wondering if you could have done better. If they end you often left with even more questions: where did I go wrong? Was it something I said? Etc..

There are a few simple rules to follow to make sure you are getting more form your relationship, are not jeopardizing it and are ensuring its longevity. Building relationships builds trust, and you do better deals with those you trust, than those you don’t.

1) Be honest: it can be hard to honest in business, especially when you negotiating a deal and you don’t want the other party to know what you know. But there is a level of honesty that can be achieved without giving away all your secrets.   Time after time in the classroom negotiators blatantly lie about something – usually to give themselves more leverage – and all that happens is deadlock ensues or mistrust takes over once facts become known. Relationships cannot thrive on mistrust and dishonesty. Would you be happy to deal with someone if they lied to you? No? Well don’t do it to someone else.

2) Empathise: If you can’t understand how, or why something is affecting the other party, try to put yourself in their position. Would it bother you? How would you feel in their shoes? Can your understanding help you be more sympathetic? Being understanding, rather than dismissive, is going to do wonders for your relationship.

3) Listen: There is nothing better than being a good listener. Everyone needs an ear some time and everyone appreciates being listened too. Even if you think they are wrong, talking nonsense or it is of no interest to you, it will benefit your relationship to listen. And not just blindly listen, but actively listen – confirm details, summarise, acknowledge feelings and confirm understanding.

4) Think about them, not just you: remember negotiation is about trading. It is not all about what you can get out of the deal, it is a joint edneavour and to get a good deal, you will need to give the other party something. Not just something, but something that they need. Tap into their interests, find something that they will trade for something you want.

5) Think long: good negotiators know to think ahead, not just the short term. Good deals for both parties, means repeat business in the future. So being too aggressive early on will lead to short term gains and long term losses. Think ahead and don’t try to ‘beat’ the other party. Negotiation is not about winning, it is about being successful.