15 Good Negotiation Skills (With Definition and Examples)

Updated 25 August 2023

Negotiation skills can help you in a variety of professional situations, including interactions with other employees and meetings with clients, for example. By mastering negotiation, you can handle conflicts efficiently. In this article, we are going to be delving into the definition, types of negotiations, important skills to have, preparation process, ways to develop these negotiation skills and things to avoid during a negotiation.

What is negotiation?

Negotiations are conversations that happen between two or more parties to resolve issues in an amicable manner and on acceptable terms. During the process, parties present their terms and persuade the other party to accept them. Ultimately, both parties aim to reach a fair compromise in this negotiation.

15 good negotiation skills

To succeed in negotiations, here are 15 important negotiation skills you can develop:

1. Relationship-building

Firstly, establish good terms with your negotiation partner before it begins. Greet them, get to know them better and start friendly conversations to leave a positive impression of yourself on the other party. With that, it makes the negotiation process smoother as both parties have built familiarity.

Related: Relationship-Building Skills: Definitions and Examples

2. Research and planning

Research the other party and understand their main objectives from this negotiation before you meet. If possible, it's good to identify their strengths and weaknesses so that you know how to counter-offer or work around your expectations.

You can list down your expectations from this negotiation and understand what areas of the deal you can or cannot compromise on. From there, you can have a better idea of the types of outcomes that can occur, the bottom-line outcome you can accept and backup plans that are needed if the negotiation fails.

Related: Research Skills: Definition, Examples and Importance

3. Active listening

Being able to listen to the other party's needs is a crucial skill to have during negotiations, more so if you can remember the details well. This can help you remember and interpret details better. It can also help the other party feel validated.

Related: What Is Active Listening? With Tips for Improvement

4. Patience

Negotiations can last longer than expected, especially in corporate settings. Hence, it is important to remain patient when the other party counter-offers or makes changes. That way, you can have a clear mind to address these changes and re-negotiate for a better outcome.

Related: What Are Resilience Skills? And How to Improve Them

5. Persuasiveness

Persuasion is another important attribute that you can use during negotiations. The ability to influence and convince others is one of the most important skills to possess in negotiations. It helps you articulate your points with impact, allowing the other party to easily understand the benefits of your terms and be more receptive to them.

Related: What Is BATNA? (Plus How to Identify and Examples)

6. Communication

Negotiation is a type of communication, so interpersonal skills are important for these exchanges. This means being able to engage the other party with both verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Additionally, being able to adjust your communication style to suit different audiences is helpful too, such as speaking in their native language or dialect if you have the basic conversational abilities to do so.

Related: How To Improve Communication Skills (With Definition and Examples)

7. Adaptability

In negotiations, challenges and changes can happen frequently. Being able to adapt your terms to the new plan ensures efficient collaboration. It helps to always stay open-minded to changes and have plans to be prepared for these changes.

Related: Adaptability Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

8. Respect

When talking to the other party, always try to be respectful and courteous. Although it is a less significant part of the negotiation, subtle actions like these count toward the other party's impression of you. This helps the other party trust you more and be more interested in working with you.

Related: What Is Integrity? Definition, Attributes and Examples

9. Quick thinking

Being able to think fast is a good skill to have during negotiations. This can help you during urgent situations that require improvised solutions. Quick thinking can also train your ability to manage pressure as well, which helps in corporate-related negotiations.

10. Confidence

Displaying confidence helps to show the other party that you are dependable and knowledgeable enough to handle the discussion. This builds trust between you and your negotiation partner. Doing your research and maintaining good eye contact with the other party are ways to increase your self-confidence.

Related: How To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills (With Tips)

11. Empathy

To empathise means to understand and relate to the other party's feelings. Try to think from the other party's perspective during a negotiation. This can help you grasp their mentality and adjust your terms accordingly. This also helps the other party accept your terms more readily, as they feel respected.

Related: Conflict Management Skills (With Definition and Examples)

12. Assertiveness

It's crucial to be firm and clear on the terms that you deem mandatory during a negotiation. This helps to secure your interests and let the other party know what you are able to accept or not accept. However, if the other party cannot compromise, it is not wrong to reject the deal.

13. Decision-making

The ability to make decisions quickly and confidently can help you be more effective in negotiations. This skill is exceptionally important towards the end of the negotiation when you understand all the options and have to decide whether to accept or reject the deal. It is important to be decisive at this step and prevent yourself from overthinking the options.

Read more: Decision-Making Skills: Definition and Examples for Leaders

14. Rational thinking

If negotiations get intense, you may start to feel negative emotions such as stress or confusion. This is when your rational-thinking skills are necessary to help your brain manage these emotions. The ability to think logically during a negotiation can help you overcome these negative emotions during negotiations.

Read more: 9 Essential Critical Thinking Skills and How To Develop Them

15. Observation

Good observation skills require you to be attentive to detail and alert. Look out for non-verbal cues, especially in the other party's behaviour and facial expressions, to assess whether the other party is receptive to your terms. Besides that, these skills can help you assess the situation better and know when to make your requests.

Related: Detail-Oriented Skills: Definition and Tips

How to prepare for negotiations

With the steps below, you can achieve better results during the negotiation:

1. Research the other party

Learn about their background and understand their purpose in entering this negotiation. For example, if you want to negotiate for a better supplier price, find out how your supplier's business industry is doing. Compare their current price with other vendors in the market to ensure that your suggested price is within the market range.

2. Plan your objectives and terms

Lay out your objectives of this negotiation and any key terms or conditions that have to be included in this deal. Continuing from the previous example, your goal is to likely gain more savings for your company. Some important terms to consider would be the duration of this agreement or delivery fees that may be included.

3. Evaluate the possible types of counter-offers

Think of how the other party may react to this negotiation. What if they counter-offer for a different price? Would they impose a minimum quantity to order? From there, plan your counterarguments. Introduce other benefits of having you as their business partner to validate your offer.

4. Think of alternatives if the negotiation fails

It's normal for some negotiations to not result in a deal. If you and the other party cannot work out a fair compromise, it is better to reject than accept an unfair deal. In this example, you may want to consider sourcing from other suppliers locally or overseas.

How to develop negotiation skills

After understanding the skills required in negotiations, follow these tips to improve on them:

1. Always do your research

Seek advice from your boss or colleagues on how negotiations work, things to look out for and areas to avoid going into detail. If this is your company's regular supplier, get tips from people who have experienced negotiating with them to gain more insights.

2. Establish clear bottom lines

In a negotiation, the bottom line is the minimum you're willing to accept in a deal. As much as you are looking to secure a deal, it is vital to show the other party where you stand and what is considered negotiable or non-negotiable. These guidelines help set a clearer direction for the negotiation process.

3. Practise with someone you trust

Get someone trustworthy to role-play the negotiation so that you can rehearse what you want to say. Have the other person surprise you with questions that you may receive during the negotiation. Doing so prepares you to think quickly and learn to be flexible in different situations.

4. Know your negotiation style

Develop an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, so that you can play to your advantage and prevent triggering your weak points during a negotiation. For example, if you know that you tend to stutter when nervous, practise taking deeper breaths and pacing yourself well through the discussion. Learning about your negotiation abilities can help you present yourself better during these discussions.

What to avoid in negotiations

During negotiations, it's best to avoid these challenges to ensure a successful negotiation with your partners:

  • Making baseless assumptions without confirmation

  • Giving in too quickly even when you are on the losing end of the deal

  • Focusing on your benefits and neglecting the other party's interests or feelings

  • Taking negotiations personally and getting emotionally affected by the negotiation process or results

  • Turning greedy when you are already gaining a bigger advantage in the deal


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