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Communication Is the Key : 11 Smart Tips for Workplace Negotiation

After the lunar new year holiday, some people are looking for a new start of their lifestyle. It seems the perfect time to refresh your negotiation skills for the best outcome.

Negotiations take place among any activities, workplace negotiation is likely to happen for most people. Need not to run away from negotiations with your clients, colleagues, and bosses because of disagreements, because negotiation skills can be learnt. Moreover, these skills can be applied in virtually any communication.

What is negotiation?

Negotiation always happens naturally, it is a process of communication among two or more negotiating parties aiming to settle differences by means of compromise or agreement so that they can avoid argument, dispute or conflict.

For regular people like you and me, fairness is the key to fruitful negotiations in our daily life. In other words, an unfair negotiation cannot settle the issue. The principles of a business negotiation are to clarify mutual benefits, maintain a cooperative relationship and achieve a successful outcome.

Here are a few tips or reminders, under three stages of the process, for achieving the desirable outcome in every negotiation of your life.

Stages of negotiation


  1. Focus on the matter
  2. Provide choices
  3. Hold fallback positions
  4. Know your emotional triggers
  5. Set time limit


  1. Begin with small talk
  2. Listen and improvise
  3. Clarify common ground
  4. Present potential
  5. Think Twice


  1. Agreements and actions

Focus on the matter

Before you contact any people, ask yourself, “Why do I have to make this conversation?” and “What do I want to happen after the meeting?

Then, do your homework and gather as much information and knowledge about the matters as you can, especially the information contrary to your belief. Broad and deep understanding of the subject of discussion guarantees good participation which is essential to achieve your goal.

Provide choices

If you will be asking for something, prepare a range of options that you can offer for your negotiating partner to choose. This approach could make it harder for your partner to counter with.

It does not stop you from asking open-ended questions in discussion. Instead, it can keep you from making an impulsive decision which turns out to be harmful.

If you are asked for something, prepare a range of compromises that you can offer so that you can achieve greater benefit or alternative solution, compared to holding to the original positions.

Hold fallback positions

Make a great Plan B to counter your partner’s offer which does not go along with your expected answers. Also, it is no harm to come up with an Escape Plan to cater to the consequences of the failed negotiation.

Know you emotional triggers

Your emotion can affect your participation in a negotiation, so as your partners. The key to not taking things personally is to concentrate on solving the matter.

It is hard as we are human beings afterall. you may express your feeling to the issues before the discussion in an non-offensive manner, then you could separate the matter that will trigger your negative feelings during the stage when people are seeking a solution.

Set time limit

This rule is as important as booking a suitable venue but is often missed. Setting a limited period can avoid disagreement, just in case, continue endlessly. A limited time-scale can also ensure the efficiency of the discussion.

If you feel uneasy to set the time frame for the meeting, you may arrange it before another routine activity, says 45 minutes before lunchtime so it will end quite naturally.

Begin with small talk

Before you and your partners go straight to business, if possible, you may try to catch up with the other, and talk about the feeling regarding the matter. A little time of warm up could lead to a smooth start of the following discussion.

Listening and improvise

The most important action in negotiation is to listen to your negotiating partner. Disagreements happen when every participant talks too much and listens too little. The rules of thumb in listening is that each party should have an equal opportunity to present their subject. Then, never correcting your partner spontaneously. Just jot down the points for clarification.

Always pay close attention to what your partner is expressing and be open to step outside of your comfort zone.

Clarify and establish common grounds

Without mutual understanding, mistakes will happen and may lead to dispute. Clarification is the process in which the goals, interests and viewpoints of participants are identified. You and your partner should feel the point of view of both sides have been taken into consideration, then some common grounds are established over the matter of discussion.

The clarification process usually runs in the order of questioning, listening and clarifying. Then, it repeats for another subject. It is followed by the establishment of common grounds. In order to reach for a beneficial outcome, preferably a Win-Win outcome, you can your partner are likely to suggest alternatives and counter alternatives, it is time when your preparation pays off.

Present potential

People always feel comfortable to others who can demonstrate potential rather than listing their accomplishments. Even if you are doing it unintentionally, you would seem to be showing off your success instead of solving problems.

Think Twice

Sometimes, it happens when the seller is eager to come to a deal, you are offered a good deal. Be sure to consider the risk before asking for extra on top.

Agreement and actions

Agreement is an acceptable solution after the interests of participants were considered. It should be crystal clear so that both sides understand what decision is made.

The agreement should involve a course of action has to be implemented to carry through the decision.