Whether it’s with an employer, family member or business, we all negotiate for things each day like higher salary, better service or solving a dispute with a coworker or family member. Here are some negotiation skills, techniques and strategies to help you handle these situations more effectively.

Know Thyself

When you go into a negotiation, take a personal inventory. How do you feel about negotiation? Do you want to get it over fast? If so, you may give in too quickly, or give away too much. Or, do you want to win, no matter what the cost? If so, you may become adversarial and damage the relationship.

Do Your Homework

Know who you’re negotiating with before you begin. What’s his or her reputation as a negotiator? Win/Win model or Win/Lose model? Does the person want to negotiate with you, dread the negotiation, or is this a neutral situation.

Build Trust

Negotiation is a highly sophisticated form of communication. Without trust, there won’t be communication. Instead you’ll have manipulation and suspicion masquerading as communication. Be trustworthy. Honor your commitments. Tell the truth. Respect confidences.

Develop External Listening

Most people carry on an inner dialogue with themselves. When you’re trying to communicate with someone else, this inner dialogue becomes a problem because you can’t listen internally and externally at the same time. When you negotiate, turn off your inner voice and only listen externally. You won’t miss important nonverbal messages, facial expressions of voice inflections, when you listen externally.

Move Beyond Positions

It’s risky to make yourself vulnerable to someone. That’s why in a negotiation you begin by stating your position. Later, when the trust has deepened, you and the other party can risk more honesty and identify your true interests. As a negotiator, it is your responsibility to ask questions that will uncover the needs or interests of the other party. If you’ve also done your job of creating a supportive climate, you’re more likely to get honest answers.

Know Your BATNA

BATNA stands for Best Alternative to A Negotiated Agreement. The acronym comes out of the research on negotiation conducted by the Harvard Negotiation Project. Before you begin a negotiation, know what your options are. Can you walk away from the deal? What other choices do you have? What are the pros and cons of each choice? Don`t stop here. Also consider the BATNA of the other party.

Know What a Win Is

What is your best case scenario? What is your worst case scenario? The area in between is called your settlement range. If you can reach an agreement within your settlement range, that’s a Win! Don’t drop below your bottom line; you’ll feel bad about yourself and the deal afterwards, and you may not follow-through on your commitments.

Enjoy the Process

Negotiation is a process, not an event. There are predictable steps: preparation, creating the climate, identifying interests, and selecting outcomes, that you will go through in any negotiation. With practice, you will gain skill at facilitating each step of the process. As your skill increases, you’ll discover that negotiating can be fun.


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  • Negotiation Skills