Answer by Mira Zaslove:
Better negotiators focus on the outcome, not on themselves. They ask questions, and really listen, rather than telling other people what to think. The stereotypical adversarial slick-talker you have in your mind, thankfully, is not the best negotiator.
From what I've seen, great negotiators:
Listen more than they talk
Negotiation is not about trying to win an argument. Their goal is not to prove a point. Good negotiators don’t get defensive. They don't immediately go on the offense once they get an objection. Rather than fighting back, they use objections as an opportunity to listen carefully, and to figure out what matters to the other person. They ask for clarification, and listen.
Focus on what the other person wants
Good negotiators do their research. However, they don’t assume they know what matters to the other person. Rarely is there only one way to view the situation. The best negotiators are flexible and don't box themselves in. Changing somebody’s mind is hard and exhausting. And it rarely works. Great negotiators focus on how they can give other people what they want.
Are exceedingly patient
The more adversarial and draining the negotiation, the more likely the party with more stamina will win. Better negotiators don’t cave, or quit. Perseverance pays off. For most people, at a certain point, the goal is just to come to a conclusion and move on. But, for the most effective negotiators, the goal is always to get the best deal possible given all the circumstances. Impatient “take it or leave it” negotiating rarely achieves the optimal outcome.