Negotiating Skills

Negotiating isn’t just for lawyers and salespeople. Whether you’re forming a partnership or taking on a new contract, working on an internal project, or resolving an everyday conflict at work, negotiating skills are essential. Negotiating isn’t just a series of compromises. When the aim is to achieve the interests of both parties, negotiation is, at its core, really about problem-solving.

Here are nine helpful tips to help you master the art of negotiation:

1) Use your people skills
Knowing how your behaviour affects others and understanding their personality profile can give you an advantage in the negotiation process. It’s important to understand that everyone has a unique and preferred way of communicating and it may not be the same as yours. Altering your communication style to meet the needs of the person you are negotiating with can be advantageous.

2) Listen
Don’t just listen to reply, listen to understand. Understand the interests of the other party, where the problem can be solved and where agreement can be met.

3) Negotiation Preparation:

  • Attempt to establish the negotiating style of the other party
  • Research cultural sensitivities which may affect the negotiation
  • Detail the interests of both parties and know what there is to trade
  • Detail three options to move the negotiation from compromise to joint problem-solving
  • Research external constraints which may affect the negotiation.

 4) Don’t be intimidated
Try not to be scared by the other party’s tone of voice, body language, choice of words, approach to the discussion etc. The key to this is recognizing what you’re intimidated by and why the other person might be employing that tactic.

5) Stay consistent
This doesn’t mean never change what you say you’ll agree to, otherwise there wouldn’t be any point negotiating. Just make sure you keep your facts and reasons straight.

6) Respect the process
Chances are there will be a set agenda or policy that applies to how you run your negotiation. Respect the process; it’s there to help make sure you get an outcome as efficiently as possible.

7) Prepare solutions for mutual benefit
Have some ideas ready to go for solutions that would benefit both sides in some way. If you have multiple options, put them in preference order.

8) Frame your negotiation around one or two key points
Having an agenda will keep you on track.

9) Offer the benefits for accepting your offer
Make sure you can explain to the other side how they would benefit from accepting your offer.

Source: This is an edited extract from ‘Negotiating Skills’, available from AFA Care and Benestar at For more information about accessing AFA Care resources available at Benestar please visit