Negotiation skills

Is it time to improve your negotiating skills? These tips will help you get started.

How to improve your negotiating skills

Negotiation is an important career skill to have. Over the course of your career and personal life, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to exercise this skill.

“Negotiation is a normal part of our professional life,” says Dr. Matt Hurtienne, Associate Dean of Concordia University Wisconsin’s School of Business. He continues, “Often, negotiation is visualized when accepting a new job, seeking a different salary structure, employee contracts, or a promotional process.”


Tip #1 Approach negotiation with a growth mindset.

You might be tempted to think that you don’t have the personality for negotiating or that negotiating might be too difficult. The truth is that when you don’t negotiate, over time, you could be losing out on a lot of money and benefits. USC researchers conducted a salary negotiation study. In this study, the researchers found that men and women are equally bad at negotiating. While this study was completed using virtual humans, the researchers predicted that if this were happening among real humans, the women would lose out on more of what’s being offered due to systemic issues and bias. 43% of the people in the study didn’t even attempt to negotiate their salary, which left 20% of the total salary package on the table.

The takeaway: Be proactive about improving your negotiation skills. 


Tip #2 Focus on building trust.

“Negotiations occur on a daily basis as we work through process improvement, team development and dynamics, and critical conversations,” Hurtienne states.

“These negotiations are a way to achieve the end results that can positively impact you as an individual, the team, the organization, and the customer. The art of negotiating relies on the understanding that developing trust is an important factor in a successful outcome. Therefore, take the time to understand the opinions, views, and needs of all the stakeholders that are involved in the negotiations. Look for ways that the outcome can benefit all stakeholders can benefit.” This requires you to flex your emotional intelligence.

The takeaway: You won’t regret approaching your negotiations in a way that builds trust among each party involved.


Tip #3 Do your homework.

When gearing up for any negotiation, it’s important to come prepared. At the very least, you should know what your best possible outcome is. Similarly, you should attempt to understand what the best possible outcome is for the person or group you’re negotiating with. Show up with a plan, and come prepared with a back-up plan if your first option doesn’t work out.

Knowing yourself

Part of doing your homework ahead of time involves knowing your negotiation style. Do you know what kind of negotiator you are? Think about your strengths and growth areas before coming to your negotiation meeting. Do you tend to avoid conflict and give in easily? Maybe your negotiation style isn’t cooperative and could grow in that area. It’s important to remember that your negotiation style can be flexible.

Knowing your opponent

Knowing yourself is always good advice, but what do you know about your opponent? First of all, your “opponent” might not be an actual opponent. Like Dr. Hurtienne said, negotiations happen in the workplace every day. Your “opponent” could be the director of another department, a new client, or someone you report to, for example. Whether your opponent is truly in opposition to your goals or not, trying to know and understand them is always important. As we previously mentioned, negotiations go much smoother when the involved parties trust each other. Review the history of your opponent’s department or organization. This could help you find common ground and collaboration opportunities.

Researching your opponent also includes finding out what their negotiation boundaries would be. In other words, you want to understand the environment your opponent experiences. Be aware of what external factors they’re facing. One such factor could be the audience. Who else is watching? states: “Even private negotiations have audiences. Negotiators on both sides may have stakeholders they are reporting back to, or competitors who will catch wind of the result.”

The takeaway: Preparing for your negotiation is the most important step. Know yourself and know your opponent. 


Exercise your negotiating skills

You won’t regret brushing up on your negotiating tips. You’ll be able to use these skills during low stakes, smaller-scale negotiations, such as determining whose department will cover which tasks on an upcoming, but routine project. Also, you’ll be able to put these skills to use in a way that has a life-changing, long-lasting impact, as is the case when you’re negotiating for a higher salary. Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to work to overcome any anxieties you have around negotiations and practice this skill. Your future self will thank you.


Do you want to know more?

If you’re interested in learning more about Concordia University Wisconsin’s Batterman School of Business, visit us here.


This blog was originally published on 01/31/2022. It has been updated to reflect current information.

— Vanessa Lane is the Content Marketing Lead at Concordia University and can be reached at When she's not at work, she can be found playing with her kids or watching NBA basketball with her husband.

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