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8 Tips for Strengthening Your Negotiation Skills

Becoming a master of negotiation can empower you to achieve both your personal and professional goals.

At any stage of your career – whether you’re in the interview stage or are a leader at your company – strong negotiation skills are a must. They can help you develop strong leadership skills and collaborate in work environments where people may have differing ideas and priorities, and ultimately help you create better, more mutually beneficial solutions for yourself and others. Negotiation skills follow you outside of the workplace and classroom into other aspects of your life, empowering you to self-advocate in everyday situations such as buying a home or car. 

Here are some strategies to help you learn how to negotiate more effectively, and get set to accomplish your personal and professional goals.

1. Get prepared

Preparation is the first step to negotiating successfully. Try to create a complete understanding of the situation, what your ideal outcome is and the possible scenarios in which the situation at hand can play out. Asking yourself the following questions and writing your answers down in advance can help you hone in on your negotiation strategy:

• What am I hoping to get out of this?

•  What supporting points and facts make my asks reasonable?

•  What, if anything, am I willing to compromise?

•  What are the best and worst case scenarios?

•  How is the other party likely to respond? 

2. Define your goals

Have a clear understanding of exactly what you’re asking for before you enter the negotiation. Build your case with supporting points beforehand and establish why the other party should consider your request. For example, if seeking a promotion, draw on professional accomplishments or abilities and skills that make you a standout candidate for the position. Having a clear vision of your value and what you bring to the table can help you stand your ground and lend credibility to your argument. 

3. Don’t sell yourself short

Always set reasonable goals, but don’t be afraid to strive for the best outcome. If you believe you truly deserve something, have the confidence to ask for it. Consider asking for more than you actually hope to get, and then accept a lower counteroffer. That way, you still meet your goal, and the other party feels like they “won” a compromise. Whatever you choose to ask for, make sure it’s what you deserve.

4. Take your time

Negotiation can be a process, and when you’re clear about your goals, values and ideal outcomes, sometimes it can take a little time and patience to get there. This may include multiple conversations, emails or phone calls. During the process of negotiating, remember to:

• Make all your key points.

• Hear the other party out.

• Consider everything that is discussed.

• Try not to rush through a negotiation or pressure the other party to make a decision; taking time to think things can benefit both sides.

5. Communicate clearly

Proper communication enables you to express yourself clearly so the other party understands what you’re asking and is open to hearing your argument and working with you toward a solution. Some of the following factors may help strengthen your negotiation and increase your chances of reaching your ideal outcome:

• Establishing trust so the other party feels respected and heard.

• Building a rapport so they can connect with you, and finding commonalities so that they’re more receptive to what you have to say.

• Being personable and positive.

• Expressing your argument clearly with supporting points, quantifying accomplishments and skills with examples or evidence.

• Maintaining a professional demeanor and body language, even if things don’t play out the way you planned.

6. Listen carefully

You want the other person to feel heard and validated, too. Perhaps they’ve even thought of something you haven’t. By listening to them, you may even rethink your original position and arrive at a better outcome that works for you both. 

7. Seek a win-win solution

Look for a mutually beneficial resolution. Don’t just think about what the other party can offer you – think about what you can offer the other party. How can you help them feel confident that they’re benefiting from your desired outcome as well? Is there anything you can reasonably offer to incentivize them? 

8. Explore alternatives 

If you conduct your negotiation successfully, very rarely should you walk away empty handed – even if you didn’t get what you originally asked for. Sometimes negotiation involves flexibility and compromise to create satisfactory outcomes. After listening to what the other party is willing to offer, determine if the alternative aligns with your goals. Perhaps your boss doesn’t have it in the budget to give you a raise this month, but they can agree to one in three months. Pause to consider if you’ve come to a well-thought-out compromise in this situation, or if it’s in your best interest to walk away and pursue other options.           

Strengthening your negotiation skills can empower you to fight for what you want – for what’s fair for you – and make your voice heard even if the outcome isn’t exactly as you’d hoped. And getting good at it takes practice! Remember to keep an eye on your goals and keep refining your strategy.


Learn more about how Strayer University helps students improve personal and professional skills.

Category: Lifestyle

Published Date: NOVEMBER 2, 2023