7 of The Most Important Negotiation Skills You Must Master

There was a time when a bit of haggling was expected in nearly every transaction from the price of shoes to the cost of a loaf of bread. Sadly, negotiations are mainly used in the business world nowadays. Regardless, knowing how to negotiate effectively can save you and possibly make you big bucks over a lifetime. Increasingly, business negotiators recognize that the most effective bargainers are skilled at both creating and claiming value.

Your success as an entrepreneur is determined in large part by your ability to communicate. You can be the best at what you do, but if you’re not communicating effectively with clients, staff and the market, then you’re missing out on opportunities. Negotiation is all about communication and it’s a skill that many need to master for long-term success.

Here are 7 of the most important negotiation skills you must master:

1. Be Flexible

As prepared as you may be, the party you are negotiating with might throw you a curveball or two. Keep an open mind so you’re on top of the situation should things not go your way. Do not restrain yourself by setting an inflexible deadline because time urgency in other places is interpreted as a weakness. Even when you are under a time crunch, be calm and project the allure that time is not of the essence.

2. Patience

Negotiating can sometimes be awkward, especially for those new to the sport. Stay calm and try not to make the first offer. Why? Because if you’re a seller, that price may be significantly less than the buyer was willing to pay. And if you’re the buyer, that price may be significantly more than the seller was hoping for. It sounds like a twisted game of chicken, but the person who throws out the first number is usually at a tactical disadvantage.

3. Don’t Be Greedy

Greed is a trait that everyone demonstrates, but very few recognize in themselves. Unfortunately, nothing can destroy a relationship more quickly than a greed-driven negotiation. If one party pushes for too much or is too aggressive, the relationships can be irreparably damaged.  It’s only natural for people to overestimate the value of their product, position or contribution in a negotiation. It takes a special skill to recognize greedy behavior and to stop it before it gets out of control.

4. Build Rapport

Although it’s not always feasible to engage in small talk at the start of a negotiation particularly if you’re on a tight deadline, doing so can bring real benefits according to research. You and your counterpart may be more collaborative and likely to reach an agreement if you spend even just a few minutes trying to get to know each other. If you’re negotiating over email, even a brief introductory phone call may make a difference. This is one of the most valuable negotiation skills to master.

5. Listen Deeply

Most people are terrible listeners. The reasons vary, from being distracted by our own internal monologues to superimposing meaning on what’s being said before we allow others to finish. Instead, try and focus on the person speaking and verbally play back a summary of what was said to make sure you understand before adding your own input into the conversation.

6. Confidently State Your Value And Differentiation

Branding and selling are all about being able to confidently communicate both your points of value and what makes you different than anyone else on the market. The same skills are essential in helping you motivate yourself on a daily basis, hire the right employees and ultimately even connect with friends and partners.

Spend time getting clear about the value you bring to the table and your unique selling points along with your ability to confidently share that in different contexts. Practice boiling that proposition down to no more than two to three sentences.

7.  Ask Good Questions

You can gain more in integrative negotiation by asking lots of questions, especially ones that are likely to get helpful answers. Avoid asking “yes or no” questions and leading questions, such as “Don’t you think that’s a great idea?” Instead, craft neutral questions that encourage detailed responses, such as “Can you tell me about the challenges you’re facing this quarter?”


Developing the soft skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur takes time. Focusing on your communication skills, from reading body language to summing up your value in a few sentences is one of the most powerful things you can do to advance your career and success. In this post, I shared with you the 7 of the most important negotiation skills you must master.

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