How To Improve Your Negotiation Skills

published Jul 29, 2016
2 min read



By nature, people will always disagree with each other, it’s simply inevitable. In everyday life, negotiating is an ongoing process that takes place between people, whether it is done consciously or not. Regardless of whether you are a good or bad negotiator, you will constantly need to negotiate.

The reason why we negotiate is simple: we wish to reach a settlement and avoid further conflict. Depending on your negotiating skills, the outcome will vary. Generally, people will always try to reach the best possible outcome for themselves or their company.

However, a negotiation should never be unfair nor negative. Though people have different interests and wish for different outcomes, it is important to reach a mutual benefit for both parties. Besides that, maintaining a good relationship is a crucial factor of fair trade.

Effective Negotiation Attributes

Being able to identify problems, analyse them and act upon them is an attribute that not everybody has, unless the problem is very obvious. Problems are often the initiatives of need for negotiation to settle things between people.

Preparing for your negotiation is a fundamental step, as the amount of time you invest in preparing for it will affect its outcome. For instance, this includes setting goals and alternatives for desired outcomes as well as gathering information and getting to know all aspects of the case.

Being a good negotiator also requires a combination of communication and interpersonal skills. These attributes together will simplify your negotiations, and will help you achieve your desired outcomes.

It is crucial for a negotiator to understand the big picture, since being able to respect and listen to the arguments of your counterpart is key when hoping to find common ground. Sometimes, finding solutions through compromises rather than fighting for your initial goals in a narrow-minded way is more valuable. This will also enable you to maintain a good relationship with your counterpart after your negotiation.

7 Tips on How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

Some people are born as negotiators and don’t really need to put as much effort into practicing and preparing for their upcoming negotiations, whilst most people do.

For those who do, the following tips will help you improve your negotiation skills. By implementing these tips you will increase your chances of reaching a better outcome:

Preparation is likely to be the most important part of a negotiation. The “fight” may be won or lost, long before the actual talk takes place around the table. The message is simple: the more homework you do, the higher chances you have of reaching a preferred outcome.

Set a limit, also known as a reservation point, in order to prevent walking away with something you did not intend to agree on. This won’t happen if you decide prior to the negotiation not to go higher, lower, faster, slower, etc. The limit you set is your deal breaker.

Take initiative by starting the discussion and setting the tone, it might affect the rest of the negotiations. The first minutes will tell a lot about what to expect from each party and will also give you an insight into what the outcome might be.

Aim higher than your hopes allow. It may put you in a better negotiating position, especially if you go first, as that will help you establish an anchor. This is likely to affect the rest of the negotiation.

Listen carefully to what you counterpart has to say, as you have already set the tone and standard. They may give up their deal boundaries which will tell you what could make or break the settlement for them, and this is valuable information.

Emotional control is key, and should always be kept. If you show your emotional side, you risk being seen as weak. For instance, looking desperate during a negotiation is a complete deal-breaker, as your counterpart could use this against you.

Fearlessness creates fear. If you are prepared to walk away, you’re telling them that you have alternatives and don’t need them. It also creates urgency for them to take the deal – or leave it.


Written by Kristofer Pall Lentz