Essentials for Success: Winning Negotiation Skills and Techniques

What is negotiation? For many, the word will strike up images of wheeler-dealers haggling over second-hand cars or perhaps business bigwigs signing huge deals. Either way, it’s easy to neglect the importance of this skill in our everyday working lives. Negotiation skills are key to success, no matter what your profession.

Why do you need negotiation skills? How can you negotiate like a pro? Keep reading to find out.

Negotiation Skills are Essential for Professional Success

Think about it, there are so many scenarios we encounter in the professional arena that require strong negotiation skills in order to get the results we want. Are you aiming for that big promotion or a pay rise? You’ll need to negotiate with the powers that be. Do you need a favour from a colleague? It’s time to negotiate. Do you need to land that big customer account? Negotiation, negotiation, negotiation.

It’s safe to say, in order to get what you want at work, your negotiation skills need to be sound. So, how do you become a master negotiator?

Win-Win Negotiation

In business, everybody wants something. This bodes well for negotiation success because, if you gauge what the other party will find to be a mutually acceptable outcome, you’re more likely to come to an agreement that suits you both. It’s literally a win-win situation!

Effective negotiators are able to understand the motivators of others and use them to their own benefit. Using your listening skills and influencing techniques will help you to find some common ground or alternative solutions to a shared problem.

That being said, you must be prepared for some give-and-take. The negotiating process isn’t always a smooth one! It’s wise to have a plan B; if it’s not going well, try to present alternative options that are still mutually beneficial.

The Rules for Negotiation

People are complex, that’s just our nature. This fact, coupled with everyone being different, means that your approach to negotiation must be flexible. If you want to demonstrate strong negotiation skills, it’s essential to remain adaptable – there is no secret formula!

Despite this, there are some ‘rules’ that you should always follow during any situation where negotiation is required:

  1. Before anything else, it’s vital to establish what the other party will want to get out of the interaction. Try to find out what they would view as success in this situation. This way, you can be fully prepared to state your case.
  2. Keep on topic. While building a good rapport will help negotiation, try not to stray too far from the matter at hand. Everyone has their own tactics, distraction is one of them!
  3. Don’t give away too much. Negotiation is like poker, you shouldn’t show your hand. While you’ll need to give the key points, try not to reveal too much too soon. For instance, if you have a deadline, your bottom line, etc.
  4. Don’t let them see any weakness. If you show that you’re nervous or unprepared, you leave yourself open to attack. Use a clear, confident voice, maintain eye contact and display strong body language to show you’re in control!
  5. Silence can be good. Rather than trying to constantly dominate the conversation, allow for pauses. This will give the other party time to think and consider your point of view.
  6. Get it in writing. Only once you have come to a deal, you should obtain or create a written agreement. Negotiated agreements are harder to change once they are set in stone.

Negotiation Skills List

Do you think that you don’t have strong negotiation skills? Or perhaps yours could do with a little improvement? Either way, you may be surprised to learn that you already possess some of the key skills all good negotiators have.

Take a look at the following negotiation skills list to find out what characteristics are needed for effective negotiation:

  • Communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • The ability to plan and see long-term goals
  • Decision making
  • Good sense of judgement
  • Able to think on your feet
  • Influence and persuasion
  • Honesty
  • Ability to express yourself clearly
  • Assertiveness
  • Creativity
  • Patience
  • Conflict resolution
  • Quick thinking

These are just some of the skills that facilitate successful negotiation. However, it’s worthwhile remembering that all of this is useless if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Before entering any negotiation, it’s essential to be up to speed with the subject you’re discussing and to have a plan of action. Research and a bit of digging could be your secret weapons!

How to Showcase Your Negotiation Skills in an Interview

Negotiation skills are highly prized by employers; every remit from sales to customer service and stock control to team leadership will require them. So, if you’re job hunting, ensure that you demonstrate yours. An interview is the perfect stage for you to do so.

Be sure to talk about and evidence the skills that make you a strong negotiator throughout the interview. You may also be asked to provide an example of when you demonstrated negotiation skills. Having a few situations in mind before stepping into the interview will always come in handy. Clearly explain what steps you took, any obstacles you overcame and how, and the positive outcome you created.

In fact, when you think about it, an interview is just one big negotiation! So, using negotiation skills could actually help you to get the job. Employ the same tactics you would when negotiating: know your facts about the job, company and industry, show them how giving you the job would be mutually beneficial and use the right body language.


In conclusion, negotiation skills cannot be defined as one singular skill. Negotiation success requires a combination of many factors. These include your personal characteristics, preparation and establishing a mutually acceptable outcome.

However, like with any skill, you can improve your ability to negotiate. Work on all of your individual skills that will contribute to confident negotiation. Then, it’s all about experience! Don’t be afraid to negotiate, it may seem daunting at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Even the most accomplished negotiators will fail on occasion. If you do, evaluate what happened. What went wrong? What can you learn from it? What measures should you take next time? After all, they say that practice makes perfect, and negotiation is no different!

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