THE art of negotiation can be a tricky skill to master. It takes effort, practice, intelligence and a considerably high level of self-control.

Learning the how-to’s of effective negotiation can help you get large sums of money, a great job with a corner office or a great deal on a new car.

Learning how to negotiate for what and how much you want can lead you to many great things in life, but it takes a dedicated student to master this. Here are four effective negotiation techniques and strategies:

Be prepared

One of the most important strategies when entering negotiations is to show respect both during the course of discussion and through ample and thorough preparation work.

Showing up at a negotiation well-prepared, with all of the facts, figures and data that you require to make a strong case for your point of view, will not only help influence your counterpart, it will also demonstrate that you value his time and participation, and that you have put considerable forethought into your planning.

Define your goals

Before entering any negotiation, whether it is to close a deal, discuss salary or purchase a car, clearly and effectively define to yourself your goals for the negotiation, and delineate what you want to get out of it.

This way, you will be able to keep your eyes on the prize and not allow your counterpart to distract you.

Be flexible

The Japanese parable of the strength of a tree branch applies to the art of negotiation as well. The parable says that a branch that bends can withstand great force, while a branch that is rigid and inflexible snaps in the slightest breeze.

As part of your preparation work, plan out all the areas where you can safely yield your position to your counterpart. This will not only make you seem magnanimous and willing to deal, it will likely foster enough goodwill in your counterpart to convince him to “trade” something of his that you will want.

Avoid theatrics

We have all seen those movies where the tough-as-nails negotiator enters the room, refuses to budge an inch, and unleashes an angry outburst that scares the other party and convinces him to give up everything.

That negotiation strategy doesn’t always work in the real world. Such techniques only lead to a swift end to negotiations and no one gets anything. Calmness is a good negotiation skill to develop in the boardroom.