A workplace team sits around a table and negotiates.

12 Skills Necessary for Successful Negotiations in the Workplace

Almost daily in the workplace, negotiations are a common occurrence for many employees and employers. Whether negotiating during the hiring process or contracts and mergers, having the skills to find a compromise with others is key to business success.

When it comes to trying to find common ground between two sides of an argument, certain skills are needed. While most professionals are taught these skills either in college or on the job, others come to the playing field empty-handed.

Wondering what skills are necessary for successful negotiations in the workplace? Keep reading to find out.

What is Negotiation in the Workplace?

Negotiating is a discussion between two or more people who either disagree with something or need to reach a compromise. It typically involves giving and receiving a little from both sides to reach a common ground.

In the workplace, there are many situations where you need to negotiate with someone else whether you are the hiring manager, owner of the business, in the sales department, or many other options. To be successful at negotiating, you have to first have specific skills that will guide you through the process.

A group of four men discusses the negotiation schedule in front of them.
Negotiation skills are a key aspect of job success. 

Why is it Important to Have Negotiating Skills?

Having the right skills to negotiate when you need to in the workplace is not only necessary but is the key to being successful in your job. While these skills may not get your day-to-day work completed, they are designed to help you have a conversation with other people.

Some of these skills are very similar to other workplace skills that you should already have honed for yourself. The difference between standard workplace skills and negotiating skills is the varying types of communication skills that are necessary. 

Additionally, you may need strong negotiating skills when it comes to working through a job offer whether you are a potential employer or candidate. Having negotiation skills can make the difference between an equitable business relationship and one that will not work in the long run.

What Careers Require You to Have Negotiating Skills?

Most people think that only certain careers require using negotiation skills, however, there are several jobs where you may use these skills. Having negotiation skills will help you to be more marketable when it comes to jobs that are available to you.

Here are some of the jobs that require various negotiation skills:

  • Sales
  • Management
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing
  • Law
  • Real estate
  • Teaching

While this is not an exhaustive list, it can help you to realize that there are more jobs than you think that require negotiation skills. If you are planning to work in any of these fields, you will need to ensure that you have at least some of these skills.

12 Skills Necessary for Successful Negotiations in the Workplace

When it comes to negotiating, several important skills are necessary for you to have if you want to become successful at it. This means that if you learn several of the following skills, you should be able to negotiate any contract or any else that comes your way.

Check out the following skills that are necessary for successful negotiations in the workplace:

1. Communication.

As most people know, communication is the key to any job and life in general since it is the way we work with other people. Being able to communicate with others is how you get your message across when you have something to say.

Effective negotiators understand the various types of communication that are important to a successful meeting. This means that they can read the room and understand when they need to switch gears and use other types of communication to get their message across.

2. Decision-Making

The ability to make decisions is at the heart of being able to negotiate in both the workplace and the world in general. In most negotiations, the ultimate goal is to decide at the end of the meeting.

Great negotiators can make quick decisions that will affect the outcome of the negotiation. This in turn works in favor of the business since it is the key to positive outcomes.

3. Emotional Intelligence

This is defined as having the ability to take control of your emotions when you are under pressure during various situations. Depending on the type of negotiation you are involved in, emotions can be a large part of the process.

A negotiator who has a strong emotional intelligence can keep their emotions in check no matter the situation. They are also able to call either an end to a meeting or at least a break if they feel emotions are running too high.

4. Active Listening

Active listening is defined as being able to truly hear what the other person is saying instead of preparing for the next thing to say. This type of listening involves being present at the moment so that you do not lose what the other person is saying.

Many active listening skills include focusing on the person and nodding in agreement during the conversation. In addition, to show you are listening it is important to repeat back what they said in your own words.

5. Rapport Building

Like most business relationships, building rapport with others is an important part of working together to solve problems. When people feel that you are in support of what they want, then they are more likely to compromise.

Building relationships can often happen when you treat the other person with respect and show them that you care about what they need. Honing in on even the littlest things that are said can be a great way to build rapport in your negotiations.

6. Problem-Solving

While this skill is similar to being able to make appropriate decisions, it has other useful powers that you should know. Being quick on your feet and finding sometimes unique ways to reach a compromise is a great skill to have.

As a negotiator, your job is to listen to the other side and see if there is a way to build a happy medium. Doing this will not only help your own company but will build healthy relationships with others in the community.

7. Patience

Having the patience to be an effective negotiator is one skill that is universal not just in this field, but as a person in general. Negotiations are not typically a quick process which means that it can take time to reach the compromise that works best for all parties involved.

There may be difficult people in the conversation that makes it seem like there is no end to the negotiation in sight. Having patience during this type of interaction usually shows the other person that you can wait until all parties agree on the problem.

8. Planning

Most people know that when it comes to doing just about anything, you should make sure you are taking the time to plan it out. This is because the worst thing that can happen is that you go into a meeting and not know what your talking points are.

Planning resolves quite a few issues such as knowing what the negotiation is about and what your company’s position is. Once you have planned properly for the negotiation, you should be able to tackle anything that comes your way.

9. Strategy

Negotiating with others requires a certain ability to strategize throughout the meeting, no matter how long it takes. While this piece goes hand-in-hand with planning, there are factors to consider when amid negotiations.

Going into your negotiations with a strategy in mind includes doing your research ahead of time. This may include researching either the company or individual you are negotiating with to learn various strengths and weaknesses that can be used.

10. Adaptability

In some cases, all the planning in the world cannot prepare you for every possible scenario you may face during the negotiation. This is why having adaptability skills is necessary for when things change unexpectedly.

A great negotiator knows how to think on their feet and adapt to new situations when necessary. This means that they are ready for any changes and can adjust their expectations and demands to accommodate.

11. Integrity

Integrity is a skill that is probably more important than any of the other skills for a variety of reasons. Integrity means doing the right thing no matter what situation rises during the negotiation.

This includes not making more promises than you or your company can deliver on and always being open and honest. People can typically tell if you are forthcoming with your promises and the inability to keep those promises can ruin a company’s reputation faster than anything else.

12. Asking the Right Questions

Asking questions is something that is encouraged no matter what you are doing in business or your personal life. Asking the right questions during a negotiation not only tells the other parties that you know what you are doing but also clears up any miscommunication.

A strong negotiator will ask questions of the other party that may not have been thought of before. This requires them to know what is being discussed thoroughly and further research into the situation has also been done.

How Do You Get Better at Negotiating?

Like many other things in life, the best way to get better at negotiating is the continued practice of the overall principles. This means that you should not only do as many negotiations as possible but also brush up on skills continuously.

The twelve skills above are indispensable when it comes to negotiating, so it stands to reason that if you are weak in one of them, you should work on the skill. Since most of these skills are what is referred to as “soft skills,” they can be practiced.

A great negotiator is constantly doing research that will help them become better and better at the process. This could mean honing in on a particular skill or studying the power of negotiation as a whole. 

What are Some of the Roadblocks to Negotiating in the Workplace?

Just as important as practicing the skills of negotiation is learning how to overcome certain roadblocks that come up along the way. While it is impossible to plan for every contingency, you can be as prepared as possible.

For example, with more and more people using video conferencing software to hold various meetings, it can inhibit your ability to read the room in the same way. While you are looking at the other person, it may be more difficult to read them the same way.

In addition, you may have planned for a face-to-face meeting, but at the last minute, someone needs to change it to a phone or video conference meeting. You have to know how to adjust and work around the situation.

Two women use a computer and make notes prior to a negotiation.
Preparing for a negotiation is almost as important as the actual negotiation. 

How Do You Prepare for the Negotiation?

As stated previously, preparing for a negotiation meeting is one of the most important parts of the process you can focus on. Even though there will be some things that come up during the meeting that you will need to adjust to, being prepared can help reduce any downtime.

Here are some preparation tips you should consider:

  • Know your priorities
  • Do your research ahead of time
  • Consider any barriers that may stand in the way
  • Know the deadlines that may be involved
  • Understand when it is time to bow out gracefully

These tips should be considered before every negotiation meeting has begun for a wide variety of reasons. The most important of these is so that you can go into the negotiation with a good idea of the outcome you desire.

You will seem much more knowledgeable if you go into the negotiation with a good idea of the outcome you desire. It is also extremely helpful to have background knowledge concerning the issue at hand if you want to be taken seriously.

Are You Ready to Negotiate in Your Workplace?

Now that you know what skills are necessary for successful negotiations in the workplace, you should be ready to try your hand at them. Keep in mind that if you currently lack any of the above-stated skills, it may be best to brush up on them before diving headlong into negotiations.

Your research may begin with any of the skills that you may feel are your weaknesses and then move on from there. Keep in mind that you should also be able to work with a team during the process. If this is the case, you may want to also brush up on your brainstorming skills.

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