There are many different views and opinions on what makes a good negotiator, 4C’s Guy Allen takes a look at some of the characteristics required to secure the best deal.Negotiating is one of the single most important skillsets needed to run a successful business. An advantageous contract with a supplier can be the difference between a successful quarter and bankruptcy. This is especially true in times of economic turmoil when resources are scarce and margin for error low.What makes a good Negotiator?There are many different opinions on what makes an effective negotiator. In Dr Chester L. Karrass’ “The Negotiating Game”, the author carried out a survey amongst attorneys, accountants, retail buyers and property brokers to determine which abilities were essential for negotiation.The following seven traits were identified:• Planning Skill• Ability to think clearly under stress• General practical intelligence• Verbal ability• Product knowledge• Personal integrity• Ability to perceive and exploit powerOther less recognised but potentially, equally important characteristics are tact, humour and a likable disposition.Winning the Battle Before it BeginsIt is possible to draw a comparison between the art of negotiation and the lessons from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”. In his treatise on military strategy, the Chinese general emphasizes the importance of fighting battles on your own terms.Whereas there is no one size fits all approach to negotiation, effective planning is essential. The best negotiators are those who have already imposed their terms before the final face to face. When it comes to negotiation there is no replacement for preparation, effective positioning and background research.