A Practical Guide to Negotiating in the Workplace

November 07, 2018

Negotiations are critical for any group project, be it presenting an email campaign or a contract for new business. Your ability to negotiate influences your success and happiness on the job. It is a skill, involving practical insights and methodologies.

The question is not whether you negotiate, but, how well do you negotiate?

Negotiation skills are not only a benefit for you; they serve the whole organization. Poor negotiations or a lack of negotiating skills can impact the bottom line and ruin customer relationships.

If you are curious how to negotiate, start with these suggestions:

Be Prepared

Never go into a negotiation without doing research. Without context, no level of negotiation skills will help you. Therefore, know the product, service or whatever the subject of the negotiation may be.

You want to have prepared yourself by understanding not only what you will be negotiating, but who you will be negotiating with and what kind of person they are. Create a task list of items to research before entering the negotiation. That way you will know how to present a compromise that will appeal to the other person.


Often, when negotiating, emotions can take over and one can find themselves talking over the other person. That sort of aggressive approach is sure to backfire, or at least keep the negotiation heated. No one wins in that sort of exchange, and time will be wasted because of miscommunication.

Instead, try active listening, where you hear not only what the person is saying but how they are saying it, including their body language. You will learn more by listening intently.

Be Dispassionate

Emotional outbursts might feel good at the time, but what they do is show the other party that you are no longer in control. If you give into frustration or other heated emotions, you will be more likely to concede something that you do not want to or, worse, disrupt the whole negotiating process.


Naturally, one of the most important skills for negotiating is being a strong communicator. You must get your message across clearly and effectively. Poor communications lead to misunderstandings and potentially unresolved conflicts, which help neither side.


Collaboration skills help because negotiations are not necessarily an “us versus them” scenario. Most negotiations are really a type of collaboration where two parties with differing views meet and together find a way to mutual satisfaction. By working together, negotiations are less combative, and there may be no hard feelings when they are over because everyone wins.

Be Decisive

Negotiations end. There comes a point where both sides are standing on a shared space that is mutually agreeable. It is at that time one must decide to accept a deal. The skill of deciding when to stop is key to successfully closing negotiations.

Do Not Think in Terms of Winning

If you walk into a negotiation with the attitude that you are going to win, then you have already failed. Negotiating is not about competing. It should not be adversarial. Instead, you should go into a negotiation with a clear picture of what your goals and objectives are. Remember, it is a collaboration to come to the best possible solution for all parties.

Think of the Other Person

Empathy is fine, but negotiations address give-and-take. If you can help the other person, if you are aware of what they need, what their goals and objectives are, then you know what to put on the table. Even if you do not know what they want, you can always ask. It can help cut to the chase and is sure to gain respect from the other person, which can foster a collaborative atmosphere for successful negotiations now and in the future.


Chances are both parties are walking into a negotiation with a lot of preconceived ideas of what the other wants. But there is no guarantee that either side is privy to the other’s motivation or problems. Therefore, it is always helpful to start the negotiations on the same page by asking the other party what their motivation is.

Find out how they view the negotiation at the outset, and clarify yours as well. This creates transparency for the proceeding and allows the negotiations to start from a point of understanding, which cuts out a lot of unnecessary clutter and lets you get right down to business.

No Ultimatum

This speaks to the attitude that all positive negotiations share. If you let emotions rule your negotiations, then you are more likely to issue an ultimatum that will break down the discussion. Stay professional. Remember you may still need to work with these people in the future. Never burn a bridge. That is just self-destructive, and negotiations are supposed to be constructive.

Landau, Peter. (2018). “How to Negotiate in the Workplace: A Practical Guide”. Retrieved from–a-practical-guide&