Top 10 Successful Negotiation Skills To Master

Young professionals engaging in discussion

Believe it or not, we are all politicians. We are all lobbyists, and we are all negotiators. These skills are not used alone in the realm of government, but in our everyday lives, whether we realize it (or have specifically honed them in) or not. Each time we meet with a group of family or friends and attempt to decide what to do with our group’s time, we will likely do the following:

  • Play politics (choose sides and pit those who we agree with against those we do not)
  • Lobby for the group outcomes that we want to see (be it as simple as where you should all eat or what movie to go watch)
  • Negotiate (if you go to the restaurant that you do not want to eat at, will your opponents see the movie you want to see?)

In This Article: 

Why Negotiating Skills Are Important for Everyone

The above are tactics that, if only used in passing and without purpose, will only see varying results dependent upon the situation. For instance, if you are a strong-willed person who can easily influence a group of betas, then you likely see positive results that make you think you have a greater skill set than you really do. But what about those situations in which you are among a group of alphas, none of whom have any inclination to give up ground and bend to your will? Furthermore, what if that is the world of your career, whether it be in government, politics or other high-stress arenas?

Learning Successful Negotiation Skills

Whether you find yourself in a room with influencers, in a position of leadership, or just in an everyday situation that requires a decision, you can benefit from honing key negotiation skills.

Begin by taking a solid set of government and communications courses that set you up for competitive careers and life in general. At Grand Canyon University, our experienced professors will share negotiation tips and guide you on your way to fostering a formidable foundation for successful collaboration and adept political navigation.

10 Negotiation Skills You Can Develop at GCU

Below are ten top skills for negotiation that you will have the opportunity to master at GCU.

1. Preparation 

Researching and gathering information before negotiations can help you make informed decisions and increase your confidence. None of the other skills listed here are any good to you unless you have put in the work to know the person (or people) with whom you are entering negotiations. Just like a suave lawyer who knows their opposition’s argument just as well as you know your own, putting in the research to know the likes, wants, desires, weaknesses and strengths of your opposition will equally give you a leg up in the negotiation process.

2. Patience 

Like most things in life, the best things come to those who wait. Patience is a virtue that is fading from our society, yet to those who do wait, good things come. Negotiating can be hard work, especially when there are multiple goals in mind when the process began. Remaining at peace with the moment, as well as with your opposition, will allow you to best navigate through any set of complex discussions, no matter how many unexpected moments may arise.

3. Adaptability

Regardless of how big or how small a negotiation may be, every party enters into the conversation with a specific set of goals and outcomes they wish to see achieved. While it is sometimes possible for both parties to find this level of equanimity, such a grand desire is not always possible and sometimes you’re the one being forced to give up more than you originally bargained for. Being flexible and open to alternative solutions is a key negotiation skill, as situations can change during the process.

4. Active Listening 

This may be the most obvious skill on this list, but not for the most obvious reason. Certainly, paying acute attention to everything your adversary is saying will not only offer the listener insight into exactly what is wanted and why, it will also present you with hints and clues as to how to achieve the goal you want while meeting their requests. Understanding the other party's needs and concerns by actively listening also helps to foster a more comfortable relationship. In life, no one likes to not be heard. While it is important in negotiations to hear everything from a strategic standpoint, truly listening to them helps you become compassionate, which in turn leads to a mutual desire for an equitable outcome.

5. Negotiation Ethics

As morality goes, so does the practice of ethics in a society. Negotiating from a position in which all ethical considerations are applied ensures fair and principled interactions. From this baseline, outcomes that are met are achieved honestly and without remorse.

6. Empathy

So often arguments are caused and fought out without an empathetic resolution because neither party truly cares about the general welfare of their opposition. Each party’s goal is not just to win, but to see that their opponent loses. This zero-sum game which requires one party to achieve no gain has begun to create a culture of hostility that is doomed to tear itself apart if left unchecked. Desiring to understand the perspective of the other party and being open to finding an outcome that is beneficial to both sides allows you to build rapport and find cooperative and reciprocal solutions.

7. Conflict Resolution

Very rarely will a negotiation both go smoothly, or as planned. Ultimately someone is going to throw a curveball at the other, and on occasion, feelings may get hurt. Certainly, applying the previous skills of ethics and empathy will help to minimize the chance and severity of the conflict. Yet such situations still cannot always be avoided. Developing skills to manage and resolve conflicts contributes to smoother negotiations and helps both parties maintain confidence that an equitable outcome can be achieved.

8. Persuasion

Arguably the most difficult negotiation skill is that of persuasion — that is convincing your opposition that what you want is actually what they want, or that the outcome that most benefits you is also equally (or even greater) as beneficial to them. Learning how to persuade others by presenting compelling arguments is an invaluable tool that all negotiators have in their proverbial utility belt. Convincing another to take your position isn’t an easy thing, however, so continuously working to hone this skill and develop tricks and tactics to make it a regularly used tool will take effort and perseverance.

9. Research and Information Gathering

Understanding cultural differences helps in navigating negotiations with individuals from diverse backgrounds. This may be as simple as knowing what genre of movie people like or dislike, or even what foods. Information about one’s culture, whether it be ethnicity, gender or even region of the country, will help to further approach a negotiation with appropriate tact while also providing yourself with a window to positively comment on your adversary and use their background to reach them on a personal level. The more comfortable they are with you and the more they like you, the more likely they are to want to see your own goals met as well as theirs.

10. Communication

No negotiation, nor professional conversation, can be had without a clear and concise explanation of wants and desires. Conversations that lack clear explanation cannot continue in earnest either if one’s opposition cannot follow your line of thinking. Effective verbal and written communications are crucial in negotiations, and learning to express ideas clearly and concisely enhances your negotiation abilities, possibly greater than any other specifically individual skill listed here.

Earn Your Communication or Government Degree

You can get started on developing important negotiation skills by earning your bachelor’s degree in communications. If you have a desire to pursue a career in government or law, GCU also offers degrees in legal studies and justice studies. Our College of Humanities and Social Sciences is here to start you on the right educational path for your career goals. Complete the form on this page to learn more.

 Approved by faculty for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Dec. 10, 2023.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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