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Communication, Negotiation, and Persuasive Skills for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups in the 21st Century



By Promise Emmanuel

For the purpose of clarity, I would love to break down the concepts of Communication, Negotiation, and Persuasion from the outset, before underscoring their various relevances to business people in the 21st century, beginning with one of the greatest gifts God ever availed to man, Communication.

You see, the concept of Communication has been a human identity from time immemorial. Whether you’re a professional or not, being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important life skills to learn. Funny enough, some people mistake effective communication to be the ability to use high sounding vocabulary and phonetical delivery. However, effective communication is more about transferring information to produce greater understanding.

Succeeding in your business or startup requires good communication skills. You need to know what you want and how you are going to attain it. Being an excellent communicator can help propel your career.

The 4 basic Communication Skills are Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing skills. Whilst Speaking and Writing are productive skills, Listening and Reading are regarded to be receptive skills.

So whether it is done vocally (through verbal exchanges), through written media (books, websites, and magazines), visually (using graphs, charts, and maps) or non-verbally (body language, gestures, etc), good communication skills are the foundation on which you build other Negotiation and persuasive skills since their goals are to influence potential customers to think or act in a certain way.

For the want of time, permit to jointly talk about Persuasion and Negotiation as they have been used interchangeably by successful brands and business ventures.

Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people with the aim of reaching a consensus. Effective negotiation tactics are important for both parties to know in order for their side to win or to create a win-win situation for both parties. The outcome of the negotiation may benefit one of the parties involved or provide benefits to all parties in the negotiation. As business people, while our our core values are centered on customer satisfaction, we also exist primarily to make profits which make the idea of Negotiation very important.

We have various Forms of Negotiation:

*Distributive negotiation:

The Distributive negotiation is also referred to as hard-bargaining negotiation. It explains the gains made by one party are at the expense of the other party. It often occurs between parties who have no past relationship. An example of a distributive negotiation is a negotiation for the price of your product without prior contact.

*Integrative negotiation

An integrative negotiation is a merit-based negotiation that aims to create a win-win situation between you and your potential customer. Integrative negotiation requires a high degree of trust and the need to achieve mutual gains. One of the means of achieving mutual gains is by trading one favor for another.
*Integrated negotiation

Integrated negotiation was first identified and labeled by Peter Johnson, an international negotiator and author of the book, “Negotiating with Giants”. It maximizes value in a negotiation by linking it to other negotiations and decisions related to both parties.

Bad faith in Negotiations occurs where parties pretend to negotiate but ultimately have no intention of compromising on their demands. Bad faith negotiations often happen in politics where a political party pretends to negotiate but has no intention to compromise or reach an agreement.

Common Negotiation and Persuasive Tactics:

*Make the first offer

Many people are reluctant to go first in a negotiation, for fear that their bid may be too low or too high. However, making the first offer may actually give you the upper hand since you quote a price that is close to your target price. The first number sets the stage around which the subsequent negotiations revolve.

*Predict and prepare a strong response.

 *Know your target price and walk-away price

The target price is the price you are hoping for. The walk-away price is a price that is utterly unacceptable. It pays to have both a target price and walk-away price in mind prior to starting negotiations. In contrast, If you go into a negotiation without clear notions of what you want, and let the other party start the bidding, you are immediately in a disadvantaged position.

* Create the illusion of control

Creating an illusion of control can give you an advantage in negotiations. This is done by being in control of the Negotiation process and dictating it’s tune without being rude or ambitious.

For Persuasion on the other hand:
Persuasion skills are an important tool for employees in every industry. The ability to influence others, present effective arguments and prompt others to act is a valuable asset that can be beneficial in a range of workplaces. 

1. Know your goals before you start speaking.

Always make sure that you’ve thought about the goal of what you want to say as well as how you plan on getting there. That way, you’ll speak clearer and with more confidence in what you’re saying. Not only that, but since you know what you want to say and the main point you want to make, you can focus on reading your potential customer and preparing for any of their questions or responses.

2. Understand your audience and their needs.

Addressing the wants and needs of your customer as regards your product or service comes first and foremost when trying to achieve effective persuasive communication.

3. Work on cultivating relationships

The first step in persuading more effectively is improving your people skills. Focus on building trust and rapport with your coworkers, clients and friends. Even if you never have to use your persuasive skills on these particular people, strengthening your relationships with them will help you practice your interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills. You can also seek out opportunities to build new professional relationships and widen your network.

4. Build your confidence

If you are trying to persuade someone else to change their beliefs or commit to a task, you will need to show utter confidence in your own arguments. If you struggle to make eye contact or express yourself clearly, your listener will find it difficult to trust your argument. Practice your persuasive speeches in advance and eliminate nonverbal signals that make you seem nervous.

3. Employ Emotional intelligence

Another important persuasive skill involves noticing and interpreting your listener’s emotions. Emotional intelligence is a learned skill that allows you to understand what others are feeling and respond appropriately. Study their moods to know when they are happy or sad as this will give you perspectives on the Persuasion process.

Daniel Goleman, author of the bestselling book Emotional Intelligence explains that effective communication includes reading the “emotional currents” among your audience and fine-tuning your message accordingly.

When I launched my idea to introduce Krcabs and Integrated Services, it was, amongst other things, about an age-long goal of fixing a societal problem affecting effective movement of people and properties in the City of Lokoja and it environs.

I sought to to gather a team of experts with practical knowledge of Communication, Negotiation and Persuasive Skills, people who understand the demands of the 21st century business environment and people skills that involve interaction, collaboration, and managing others.

There are skills that enable people to be flexible and adaptable in different roles or in different fields, those that involve processing information and managing people more than manipulating equipment. The skills have been grouped into three main areas:

Learning and innovation skills: critical thinking and problem solving, communications and collaboration, creativity and innovation

Digital literacy skills: information literacy, media literacy, Information and communication technologies (ICT) literacy. Using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc, wisely.

Career and life skills: flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural interaction, productivity and accountability

The 21st Century skills are:

Critical thinking




Information literacy

Media literacy

Technology literacy





Social skills

These skills are intended to help start-ups and entrepreneurs keep up with the lightning-pace of today’s modern markets.

In summary, the 21st century offers wide range of opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs, but with these opportunities comes threats that require discipline, Commitment and dedication to make your mark and record mouthwatering profits.

As American entrepreneur, author, and motivational speaker, Jim Rohn would say: “Effective Communication is about 20% what you know and 80% how you feel about what you know.”

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