How to improve negotiation skills in the workplace

There are various situations that we find ourselves in the workplace when we have to negotiate with other people: salary negotiation with your manager, project terms and conditions with your client, responsibility, and roles negotiation with the team. Our livelihood, career, and reputation might depend on how well we perform at these times.

Below you will find examples of 7 specific negotiation skills you can use to become more an effective negotiator in the workplace.

Negotiation Skill #1: Being prepared

It is critically important to be prepared for every negotiation you are going to have. If you are not ready, postpone the negotiation at all costs. It is critical to know your best alternative to this negotiation as well as the best alternative to the other side. This way you can try to assess what falls inside the area of possible agreement and also see what issues might be tradable from the point of view of interests and positions of the sides. In most cases, this work requires some research.

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Preparation for each negotiation cannot be avoided, but the more negotiations you have, the more prepared you are for the next one. Therefore it is extremely useful to take classes on negotiations and participate in mock negotiations as they build your knowledge, confidence, and skills.

Negotiation Skill #2: Being silent

When the other side speaks and you are silent, you control their attention. You also control the flow of conversation with your questions. Letting the other side talk allows you to collect information about their interests, not just their position. Silence is also critical after you made the offer and the other side is considering it.

There is a time to explain your position, of course. However, learning from the other side is key to success in negotiations. And you learn most when you keep your mouth shut and your ears open.

Negotiation Skill #3: Being observant

Research shows that words communicate only 7% of the information we subconsciously receive.  38% percent of the information comes from the tone of the voice. 55% of information is visual. To process this amount of visual and tonal signals coming from the other side is critical in negotiations.


Another advantage of observing the other side allows you to shift focus from your own emotions, such as anxiety or anger and re-focus yourself on the actual problem you are collaborating on.

Negotiation Skill #4: Staying on top of your emotions

Negotiation process usually is emotional. When we negotiate with people we work with, we negotiate not just the deal, but also the relationship. Such emotions as anger, anxiety, and disappointment are rather frequent at different stages of the negotiation process.

Preparation can help in a way, as if you can predict the emotions you are going to feel, you can manage them more effectively.

Another recommended solution is to take a break when things get really heated so that no hasty decisions are made. This way you can process your emotions and get back to the actual value that you and your counterpart are looking to get from this negotiation together.

Negotiation Skill #5: Being creative and open to creativity

In most negotiations, different things have different values for the sides. For example, having flexible schedule might have a lot more value for an employee than extra $5k of a sign-up bonus. Expanding the list of issues beyond price helps to create extra value for both sides without the need to compromise.


The most frequent challenge here is that it is hard to be creative under stress. However, if there is a relationship in place that allows the sides to trust each other, creativity and open sharing of ideas can produce amazing results.

Negotiation Skill #6: Being decisive

Effective negotiators are able to make decisions quickly to be able to move the negotiation forward. The challenge here is to ensure that sufficient amount of information was collected and that decisions are made on the basis of facts rather than emotions.

So it is important to be decisive, but first, make sure you have sufficient basis for your decision.

Negotiation Skill #7: Being able to learn from every negotiation

Viewing every negotiation as a learning experience allows you to become better every time you negotiate. The best way to learn is to have a formal process in place when you deliberately allocate time to review your performance.

Sometimes it is possible to have a third party survey your former counterparts so that you can get their aggregated feedback on your overall performance.

The best results can be achieved when you participate in practice negotiation sessions, where you can get direct feedback both from you counterpart and negotiation experts.

You can develop and practice all these skills by joining our Successful Negotiators Club.