How to become a better negotiator at work

Negotiation skills are paramount to your career development and mastering them can help you become a better negotiator at work


Facilitator and coach at TowerStone Sue Bakker says negotiation skills can be harnessed to reach favourable outcomes timeously, while preserving relationships.

“The skill of negotiation is indispensable to the role of the leader as without this focus, the impact on employee engagement, sales conversation, cross-divisional discussions, career performance and progression may be hampered,” she says.

She suggests the following essential skills that could help you become a better negotiator:

Confidence and assertiveness

With confidence being our innate sense of personal worth and value, and assertiveness being our ability to affirm that in practice, negotiations rely on believing in and standing by our perspectives with respect.

READ MORE: How to profit from negotiation skills

Stress and anxiety management

Our attachment to the desired outcome, the potential impact of not closing a deal often raises stress levels, and human beings do not function optimally under stress. This essential skill is therefore critical so that the negotiation process is not hijacked by our own development areas.


Knowing what we want and being clear in how we communicate this is a critical negotiation skill, as clarity brings with its focus and direction. Through focus and outcomes based discussions, we are able to elevate conversations beyond the mundane to the purposeful.


The skill of questioning demonstrates curiosity and openness, which is the premise of all successful engagement.


This skill rests on our awareness of ourselves through the management of our verbal and non-verbal communication, is a demonstration of our respect for others, and is evidence of our openness to engage.

The integration of these holds the negotiation process in a way that conversations can move forward without the possible disruption of communication nuances.

READ MORE: Five soft skills that will boost your success


The need for decision-making skills in the negotiation process relates to the fact that negotiations don’t always go our way. If our desired outcome is not met perfectly, harnessing our decision-making skills becomes a bridge in knowing what to compromise on and when to leave the conversation.

Emotional and Social intelligence

Without the ability to self-manage in terms of self-control, we fall prey to the premise that others can’t hear what we are saying since who we are is too loud. And without the ability to hold the relationship despite the charge felt around a topic or desired outcome, we may well win the battle but lose the war, as failed relationship management often results in impacting sustainable success.