Effective negotiating skills may not be the first thing we think of when considering what strengths we bring to the workplace. Most likely, our CV lists common soft skills such as ‘self-management’, ‘teamwork’ and ‘problem-solving’, and job vacancies also seek ‘initiative’, ‘critical thinking’ and ‘agility’. The truth is that negotiation is involved in so much of what we do at work – so possessing strong, effective business negotiation skills is a valuable asset for an employee.
Some business activities, like winning a contract or sale, clearly require negotiation expertise, such as we might learn in sales training courses. But there are many other workplace scenarios where having at least basic negotiating skills is beneficial:
- negotiating a starting salary
- seeking a pay increase or promotion
- resolving conflicts
- requesting a leave of absence
- arranging a return after an absence
- seeking flexible hours or other conditions
- bargaining an enterprise agreement
- nurturing client relationships
- managing colleagues’ behaviours
- solving scheduling clashes
- prioritising workloads
- clarifying poor communication.
How many of those situations have you experienced? Did you recognise them as negotiations?
Are effective negotiating skills important in the workplace?
The scenarios all call for effective negotiating skills because in each one, we seek to influence someone else towards the outcome we desire – and whenever we do this, we are negotiating.
For example, conflict in the workplace has a huge impact on productivity and staff morale, so it’s important to resolve the problem. The role of negotiation in conflict resolution is to draw all the parties, who will have different views on the underlying issue, into seeing each other’s point of view and to identify where common ground lies.
During discussions about salary points, leave requests and flexible working conditions, strategic negotiation techniques will ensure optimal outcomes. Planning an approach and identifying appropriate tactics – such as researching industry standards and nurturing the relationship with the relevant management team member – will be more effective than simply walking in to have a conversation.
Try viewing all workplace interactions like high-stakes acquisition or contract negotiations and see the difference.
Key negotiation skills every worker should have
If we launch into important workplace discussions with no understanding of how to negotiate successfully and what the key negotiation skills are, we will not achieve the best results. Our emotions, behaviour and decisions might become unprofessional and have lasting impact on our workplace relationships.
So how do you negotiate professionally? A workplace context implies behaving with respect, integrity, honesty, a positive attitude and a sense of responsibility. These values translate into negotiation skills that allow even the most vigorous interaction to be conducted in a professional manner.
Examples of negotiation skills that are effective in this context include:
- empathy: seeing and understanding the other party’s point of view
- active listening: paying close attention to what the other party is saying and showing that you’re hearing their points
- communication: being able to clearly articulate your position, offers, questions and demands
- assertiveness: being able to stand firm when necessary, but without becoming aggressive
- creativity: thinking innovatively and flexibly to solve problems and come up with alternatives
- perceptivity: being able to see through words, emotions or actions to discern what’s going on behind them
- confidence: acting with credibility and authority to convey an impression of capability and expertise
- persistence: staying focused on your goals and strategy, even in the face of obstacles or resistance from the other party
- insight: knowing proven methodologies and having an arsenal of the best negotiation strategies and top negotiation tactics.
These soft skills are the keys to negotiating successfully in the workplace, and the difference they make in so many situations is impressive. They also form a good basis for building even more effective negotiating capabilities.
How do I improve my ability to negotiate effectively?
If you want to maximise outcomes in the workplace, basic negotiation skills will equip you for any situation. However, taking the time to learn at an advanced level how to negotiate effectively is a career investment that will yield returns in any workplace.
Everyone can develop effective business negotiation skills – they’re not something innate, or a magical ability given to a chosen few. If you’ve decided to learn how to be good at negotiating, you’re already on the way!
A quick read of some articles on ‘negotiation tips and tricks’ might be helpful, but like all skills development, the best way to learn is through expert negotiation training. And the best negotiation training is at ENS.
After more than 40 years, ENS knows what works for effective negotiations. Our unique negotiation framework is successfully applied by people around the world to accelerate growth and achieve exceptional results. Our courses on negotiation empower every participant to develop the ability and confidence to be a skilled negotiator in the workplace.
Learn in Public Training Workshops facilitated off-site and online by our expert Negotiation Strategists, using real-world scenarios to ensure relevance and understanding. Your participative learning experience continues after the workshop with ongoing access to the ENS Digital Knowledge Hub, a specialised and dynamic resource library.
ENS also offers bespoke in-house Company Training Programs, tailored to meet the particular needs of your workplace, and dedicated Consultations to prepare you for a specific upcoming negotiation.
Whichever you choose, an ENS training course in successful negotiation will change the game and enable you to achieve more than you thought possible. Take the first step today to learn to negotiate successfully in business and start transforming the way you work.