Negotiation Skills: You Can Learn To Negotiate

Negotiation Skills

On job portals, many applicants describe their foreign language skills as ‘business fluent’. But how does this negotiation work? Negotiation skills play an important role, especially in the economic sector. What is meant by this term, and why is it so important in the professional world? These questions are answered in the following sections so that you can start your new job with solid negotiating skills.

Negotiation Skills: The Most Important Things At A Glance

  • Negotiation skills are skills that can already be discussed in the application or the interview.
  • Anyone who can negotiate confidently and with the necessary degree of empathy proves to be fluent in most cases.
  • In professional situations such as salary negotiations, conflict resolution or the acquisition of business partners, negotiating skills are a considerable advantage.
  • Skilful negotiation competency is determined by five phases: listening, empathic behaviour, relational level, influence, and behaviour change.
  • Empathy is essential. Without empathy, no goal-oriented communication and no consensus are possible.
  • Basic openness is one of the most important prerequisites for empathetically conducted dialogues. Both interlocutors must want to respond to each other. Only then can they finally agree on a compromise.

What Is Meant By “Negotiation Skills”?

Negotiation skills describe a person’s ability to participate effectively in negotiations and achieve positive results. It includes a set of skills that make it possible to act skilfully in a negotiation situation, such as setting clear goals, understanding the interests and needs of all parties, identifying opportunities and finding compromises.

A skilful negotiator understands the dynamics of negotiation and can use various strategies and tactics to achieve their goals. These include, for example, the ability to actively listen, ask questions, gather information, present arguments persuasively, use emotional intelligence, negotiate skilfully and resolve conflicts.

Negotiation skills are important in many areas of life, be it in business negotiations, when concluding contracts, in interpersonal relationships or diplomatic negotiations. It involves the ability to both represent one’s interests and consider the needs of others, ultimately arriving at an agreement acceptable to all parties. Negotiation skills are an important soft skill.

Negotiation Skills In The Work Environment: Why It’s So Important

When applying for a job, many job seekers are confronted with how well they can negotiate. This fact suggests the need for this soft skill in a professional context. There are many situations in professional life in which you benefit from negotiation skills.

In Salary And Contract Negotiations

Salary negotiations are a tricky subject. A lot of sensitivity and persuasiveness is required here.
Applicants are often asked in job interviews for an estimate of their future salary. Therefore, it makes sense if you have informed yourself in advance about the tariffs customary in the industry. In the job interview, you can use this data as a basis for the salary question.

When Solving Conflicts In A Team

Unfortunately, there are occasional arguments among the workforce. As a superior or person affected, you can intervene empathetically and try to find a solution to the conflict.

Both participants should be able to speak independently of each other. In this case, one-to-one meetings are recommended.

You can make your point of view clear, but you should remain factual and take an inner distance from the conflict situation. Objective argumentation contributes to de-escalation.

In Negotiations With Customers Or Business Partners

The professional relationship with business partners is a relationship of dependency. Both parties involved need the support of their counterparts in order to be able to implement their respective interests.

Emphasizing the benefits for both business partners creates a sense of solidarity. Ultimately, both partners are pursuing the same goal: They want to work together because they hope that the collaboration will result in higher income or an improved public presence.

The Components Of Negotiation Skills

Negotiation skills are based on five levels. They develop like phases that merge into each other:


If you actively listen to the person you are talking to, you automatically get involved with his feelings and thoughts. At the same time, one recognizes his methods of conducting conversations. This knowledge can be of great importance for the course and the success of the conversation.

Empathic Behaviour

Empathy is synonymous with empathy. Those who show empathy can better understand the arguments and the point of view of the other side. Such empathetic behaviour can put conflict situations into perspective or even defuse confrontations. The importance of empathy shows us very clearly that successful cooperation in professional life does not work without emotions.

Relationship Level

The empathic behaviour from the third phase is crucial for the trust of the other person. At this point, at the latest, the interlocutor realizes that both sides are pursuing a common goal.


Mutual influence can be described as persuasion. Both negotiating partners know the interests and goals of the other. They skilfully try to convince their counterpart of their respective position. However, this cannot be achieved without appropriate negotiation strategies.

Behaviour Change

After exchanging arguments, a consensus should be found. In the end, both negotiating partners want to come to an agreement and find a compromise. The need to change behaviour may affect one or both parties. Salary negotiations are a suitable example: The manager makes a salary proposal that is only slightly higher than the previous salary due to the current economic situation. The employee still sees a financial improvement and agrees to the proposal.

The Importance Of Communication And Empathy

Without empathy, effective communication does not work. On the other hand, one can only respond empathetically to the negotiating partner and accommodate them if both parties speak openly to each other.

Present Arguments Effectively

Successful argumentation favours the success of negotiation talks. Arguments are rated as conclusive if they can be justified in a sound manner. In addition, the use of the subjunctive has a very disarming effect.

Examples Of Effective Arguments:

A request for a raise

‘I have to cover a lot of expenses at the moment. Unfortunately, my previous wages are not sufficient for this. I would therefore be happy if a salary increase were possible’.

conflict with a colleague

‘For some time now, I’ve been having private difficulties, which also bother me at work. That’s why I feel a little offended by the statement that I don’t work conscientiously enough’.

Employer intervenes in a conflict.

‘I noticed that the atmosphere between you is very tense. That’s why I would like to work out solutions with you so that everyday work will be more harmonious for all of us in the future. After all, a positive working atmosphere is not only in my interest but also in yours.

Negotiation with a client

‘Our services build on each other and complement each other well. A professional partnership between your company and our branch would be of great benefit to both parties.

Job Interview

‘In my previous job, I was responsible for customer service. It was particularly easy for me to recognize their wishes and to adapt the counselling offer so that it corresponds to their ideas. That’s why I’m sure that I’ll feel up to the future tasks at my new job’.

In all exemplary situations, the positions are supported with justifications. They ensure that the position is easier to understand for the interlocutor. The tense of the subjunctive counteracts a burgeoning conflict, especially in the first three examples.

The Importance Of Flexibility And Adaptability

Striking a middle ground does not necessarily have to mean making cutbacks in one’s own area of ‚Äč‚Äčinterest. The negotiating partners often find a solution that is ultimately more satisfactory for both parties than the original demand.

Adaptability doesn’t mean standing in line. Instead, both conversation partners should discuss, as in an analysis, at which points their individual wishes coincide. This intersection represents the consensus. It results in a compromise with which both parties agree equally.

(further) Develop Negotiation Skills

If you want to improve your negotiation skills, you can take part in seminars or fall back on tricks that can often be used ‘on the side’ in everyday work. The exercises are suitable for job seekers in their application phase, long-standing employees or management staff.

Practice Opportunities And Tips

Negotiating skills are skills that no supervisor or employee can master overnight without making mistakes: they have to be learned.

  • Aspiring or experienced managers can, for example, take part in coaching sessions in which they acquire negotiation skills. During the seminar hours, the participants imagine a fictitious situation that requires solid negotiation skills.
  • Employees and employers can take five minutes each day to look back at situations where negotiation was central: why were the negotiation skills in that dialogue basic soft skills? Were the negotiations successful? Was it possible to agree on a solution, or did the discussion end with an open outcome?
  • In conferences or appraisals, one can try to transfer the five phases to the content of the conversation. Over time, a certain amount of practice sets in, which shapes your negotiating skills.
  • Feedback from colleagues or the boss is eye-opening. Feel free to ask directly how your counterpart assesses your negotiating skills. He or she may bring a few tips of his or her own into the conversation that will be useful to you.
  • Intensive self-reflection is recommended before job interviews: In which professional situations did you have to negotiate? Why did skilful negotiation strategies matter? How can these skills be used in the new job?
  • In the job interview, reference is made to these empirical values, provided that the future employer draws the conversation on them. Honesty with the other person and, above all, with oneself is the top priority: As an applicant, you can admit that you want to be more relaxed and able to negotiate in some stressful situations. This is a way of signalling motivation and showing commitment. Both qualities are well received by the new employer.
  • These valuable tips are practical exercises that will help you fine-tune your own negotiating skills. However, patience with oneself and with the other person is also important here.

Also Read: Do You Want To Be Boss Or Leader? We Explain The Differences

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