How to Improve Your Negotiation Skills at Work?

When you think about negotiation, do you imagine large transactions between companies, high financial volumes and elite executives involved in the process? Well, know that most of the time, this is not the case.

We are constantly negotiating with our teams, customers, suppliers, partners, managers, shareholders… In this sense, developing negotiation skills at work is fundamental.

This skill can guarantee a series of benefits, such as improved interpersonal relationships, greater team engagement and better results for the company. But how do you become really good at the art of negotiation? That’s what we’re going to talk about in this article. Continue reading!

What is negotiation?

To begin our conversation, it is important to understand what negotiation is and how this skill has become so important over time.

In the book Getting to Yes, authors Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton define negotiation as two-way communication where two or more parties seek to reach an agreement.

In this sense, we can see how the negotiation process occurs in all areas of our lives: from family to professional, including friendships, of course.

Another observation that we can make from the definition given is that negotiation depends on another fundamental skill in our lives: interpersonal communication.

Why develop negotiation at work?

Although it is something we practice daily, not all of us have well-developed negotiation skills.

Just to give you an idea, 40% of people feel that they do not have the skills and confidence necessary to carry out good negotiations. Another 20% are afraid of how they will be seen during the process. Only 7% of people consider that they have no barriers to carrying out negotiations.

However, by investing in negotiation skills at work, there are a series of benefits that people — including you — can achieve.

Conflict management

One of the advantages of being a good negotiator is that you can better manage conflicts at work, avoiding unnecessary stress.

Better relationship with customers

If you deal directly with customers, having good negotiating power is essential to provide service, whether pre-, during or post-sales.

Team leadership

We also cannot forget that to lead teams it is essential that you have the ability to negotiate at work. It is through this that you gain the trust and engagement of your team to achieve your goals.


People who work in commercial departments have negotiation as a fundamental skill for carrying out their work. Knowing how to negotiate appropriately, you overcome consumers’ objections, gain their trust and guarantee your results more easily.

Now that you know some of the benefits of negotiating at work, how about finding out what the 7 essential elements of good negotiation are?

The 7 elements of negotiation

According to the Harvard University Negotiation Program, the negotiation process has 7 essential elements:

1. Interests

These are the motivations that lead to negotiation. These motivations can be clear or hidden and guide the way in which negotiation is conducted.

2. Legitimacy

Legitimacy concerns how fair the negotiation is. When one of the parties feels that they are being harmed, the negotiation tends to fail. Therefore, the intention of the people involved in the negotiation must always be a balanced agreement between the parties.

3. Relationships

The relationship with the parties involved is also one of the elements of negotiation at work. Whether they are co-workers, who you see every day, or clients, who you will only see once in your life, the relationship needs to be based on ethics and respect, aiming to protect the relationship of trust established.

4. Alternatives

When you enter into a negotiation, you know you can win or lose. In this sense, you need to have a plan B in case the negotiation fails and a plan C in case the negotiation is carried out and you want to take the next steps.

5. Options

Coming to the negotiating table with a single, inflexible offer can undermine your chances of winning. In this sense, it is always advisable to have options to the initial proposal to meet the demands of all parties involved.

6. Commitment

Good negotiation also requires commitment. It can be verbal or in writing, through the signing of an agreement or meeting minutes, for example.

7. Communication

Assertive communication is also part of the essential elements of good negotiation and permeates all stages of the conversation. The way you communicate can make all the difference between the success or failure of a negotiation.

How to develop your negotiation skills?

We have already gone through the definition of negotiation, its benefits and what supports a good negotiation process at work. Now, we’re going to give you practical tips for developing this skill in your professional environment.

Simulate real situations

Negotiation is a skill that is learned in practice, making mistakes and getting it right. In this sense, one of the ways to develop your negotiation skills at work is to create simulations.

You can call friends to propose a type of negotiation and then practice together. If you can count on the assessment of a more experienced professional, that would be great.

Work on your self-confidence

To make successful trades, you need to be self-confident. In other words, you need to convey security to other people, so that they trust what you are saying.

Set clear goals

When entering into a negotiation, know exactly what you hope to get out of it. This way, you can build consistent arguments in favor of your idea or project. Likewise, you can better understand other people’s objections and find arguments to refute them.

Learn from experience

As you saw previously, negotiation is learned through practice. In this sense, after a negotiation process at work, try to understand what was positive and what needs to be improved. Keep a notebook of lessons learned to improve your skills over time.

Leave a Comment