Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: Business Negotiation Skills

By: Aria Latifi, Ali Dastan, Ethan Hassassian, Roch Madejas, and Edward Peabody, Mason students in the School of Business

 “Everything is a negotiation. Everything is a little bit of give and take.” – Lamman Rucker

It is vital to learn business negotiation skills to experience success and well-being at work. Here are key business skills you can use to negotiate well.

In business negotiations, being able to understand the other side of the negotiation, being able to present your ideas clearly so that there is no miscommunication, and being emotionally intelligent are the three most important skills. Utilizing these three skills creates an engaging interaction and helps promote your company’s interests and agenda. Also, by practicing these skills in your day-to-day life, you can become more confident and successful.

Negotiations happen every day, both professionally and personally. This Washington Times article describes heated negotiations that took place about immigration policies. In this case, then-President Trump had encouraged bipartisan cooperation and for everyone at the table to voice their opinions. According to the article, the tone of negotiations during this particular meeting was fairly positive, which can come to a surprise for some as there were significant disagreements over the policies. This illustrates the saying that it isn’t about what you say, it’s about how you say it.

In any negotiation, the initial exchange of information is debatably the most important part, because it sets the tone for the rest of the negotiations. “This is the single most important stage of negotiation,” this Association of American Medical Colleges article states. “In 1978, a study of English labor and contract negotiators engaged in actual transactions showed that successful negotiators asked twice the number of questions and spent over twice the amount of time acquiring and clarifying information than did average negotiators.”

Emotional Intelligence

Being emotionally intelligent in a negotiation could be beneficial to both parties. According to this research study published by Science, emotional intelligence in negotiation requires four aspects: “self-awareness, self- management, social awareness and relationship management.” If you successfully master and work on these traits, the success rate of your ability to negotiate will drastically increase, the study found. An effective negotiator must be able to address the emotional dynamic – not only by recognizing and managing his or her own emotions, but also by recognizing and addressing the emotional aspects of all relevant parties. By doing so, you are actively showing that there is an element of care in this process and that the negotiators are working toward a set goal. Emotional intelligence is one of the single most important factors to reach end results in a negotiation and help both groups. Setting aside your momentary emotions and focusing fully on how to be able to successfully negotiate is vital.

Reflection Questions

Considering that a business negotiation typically involves yourself and another party, it is important to actively listen and understand the other side of negotiation. The reason is that you and the other party want the best possible outcome. Understanding the other side of the negotiation can start with prior planning. Consider these questions as you prepare:

  • Who is the person/party you are negotiating with?
  • What is it you are negotiating about?

Understanding who you are negotiating with will help you prepare for what is expected from them. According to this research published on, when the party you perceive as more “powerful” than you acts positively, there is mutual trust gained, leading to a better negotiation outcome. Ultimately, acting positively provides for better outcomes overall during a business negotiation. Planning for the topic of the negotiation will help you consider possible responses from the opposite party. The research showed that the more issues in a negotiation, the worse each party felt about possible outcomes, which led to overall dissatisfaction. You can be avoided that through prior planning, which will help keep you calm and collected to think clearly about your response.

During the negotiation, listening and actively understanding the opposite party will help in producing your own response. The research noted that positive and negative emotions may have positive and negative outcomes, respectively. If the other party is adamant in accepting your offer, reconsider it and observe their behavior as well as your own. Reflect on these two questions:

  • Are you pushing too much for your own goal?
  • Was the offer fair to the opposite party?

A Positive Approach

Acting and thinking more positively will provide for better outcomes for each party during the negotiation. By observing and understanding their actions, responses, and behaviors, as well as your own, you may put yourself at an advantage to achieve the best possible outcome.

Understanding and utilizing skills such as identifying your opposition’s argument, presenting your own argument clearly, and maintaining well-mannered emotional intelligence will undoubtedly result in positive results in business negotiation. In addition to strengthening these skills, you should research and study the field in which your business negotiations will take place, and who the parties involved will be. This preparation process will significantly help you develop a strategy to implement your negotiation skills. Using all these key components should help you gain leverage in negotiations and reach a deal that successfully achieves the desired goals for your company’s future.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the art of business negotiating in this article.

Learn more about a negotiation strategy in this Harvard Business Review article.

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