Career Planning Skills Development Important Negotiation Skills for Workplace Success By Alison Doyle Alison Doyle Facebook Twitter Website Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts. learn about our editorial policies Updated on October 20, 2021 In This Article View All In This Article Jobs That Require Negotiation Skills What Employers Look For Employee-Employer Negotiations Employee-Employee Negotiations Employee-Third-Party Negotiations Photo: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images What are negotiation skills, and why are they important to employers? Within a work context, negotiation is defined as the process of forging an agreement between two or more parties—employees, employers, co-workers, outside parties, or some combination of these—that is mutually acceptable. Negotiating at work can also include dealing with complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts. Negotiations usually involve some give-and-take or compromise between the parties. However, negotiated agreements do not necessarily involve both parties meeting in the middle, because one side might have more leverage than the other. Negotiations might result in formal agreements (or contracts) or may yield a less formal understanding (as in a verbal agreement) of how to remedy a problem or determine a course of action. Jobs That Require Negotiation Skills There are many different jobs where negotiation skills are valued, including sales, management, marketing, customer service, real estate, and law. All of these jobs involve consistent relational or business interactions that require strong negotiating skills. Regardless of the job, however, being able to negotiate a solution is often a predictor of workplace success. What Employers Look For When you’re interviewing with a potential employer, be prepared to share examples of your negotiation skills if they are required for the job for which you’re being considered. This is especially important if “strong negotiation and mediation skills” is an item specifically listed under the requirements section of the job advertisement. Note Come prepared to give detailed examples of a few different situations that you successfully negotiated in the past. If possible, highlight different types of work relationships and challenges that you've faced (e.g., negotiating with a co-worker, with an employer, etc.). When you describe examples of how you’ve effectively used negotiation skills in the past, explain how you adhered to the four common steps in workplace negotiation by answering the following questions: Planning and preparation: How have you gathered data to build your case for a successful negotiation? How did you define your objectives and those of other involved parties? Opening discussion: How did you build rapport and establish a positive tone for a negotiation? Bargaining phase: How did you present your argument and respond to objections or requests for concessions? Closing phase: How did you and the other parties seal your agreement? Which of your objectives did you achieve? What concessions did you make? Below are some examples of common negotiating arenas in the workplace. Employee-to-Employer Negotiations Throughout your career, you will need to occasionally negotiate with your employer or supervisor. Even if you are happy with your job, at some point you’ll realize that you deserve a raise, need a work process change, or want to take extra vacation time or sick leave. Typical employee-to-employer negotiations include: Negotiating a salary offer after being selected for a new job Negotiating a leave of absence or the timing of a vacation Negotiating the terms of separation with an employer Negotiating a more flexible work schedule Forging a union contract Negotiating a contract for consulting or freelance services Related Negotiation Skills: CompromiseCreativity Delineating the Benefits of Adopting a Position or Course of ActionFlexibilityForging TrustHonestyInterpersonal SkillsOffering Compensation for ConcessionsPersuasivePresentationTactVerbal Communication Employee-to-Employee Negotiations Whether your job requires teamwork or you're in a managerial position, you must be able to communicate with your peers, subordinates, supervisors, and colleagues. Here are a few instances of employee-to-employee negotiations: Negotiating roles and workload within a project teamNegotiating a project deadline with your bossTroubleshooting interpersonal conflicts Related Negotiation Skills: Active ListeningAddressing MisunderstandingsAsking Others to Propose SolutionsAvoiding Ultimatums and Provocative LanguageBrainstorming OptionsBuilding RapportDecision MakingDrawing ConsensusEmpathyFacilitating Group DiscussionIdentifying Areas of DisagreementProblem SolvingRefuting Opposing Views with CivilityStrategizingSummarizing Areas of Agreement Employee-to-Third-Party Negotiations Depending on your job, you may be called upon to negotiate constructively with people outside of your company or firm. If you are a salesperson, this may involve negotiating favorable B2B or B2C contracts with clients. If you have purchasing responsibilities, you’ll need to source and negotiate with vendors for cost-saving supply contracts. And, of course, if you are a lawyer or paralegal, negotiating with opposing counsel and court personnel is a given. Even jobs such as teaching require a degree of, if not of negotiation, then its close relative, mediation. Teachers frequently structure learning contracts with their students, and parent communication often requires persuasive mediation skills. Examples of employee-to-third-party negotiations include: Negotiating with a customer over the price and terms of a sale Negotiating a legal settlement with an opposing attorney Negotiating service or supply agreements with vendorsMediating with students on lesson plan goals Related Negotiation Skills: AnalyticalAnticipating Negotiating Strategy of your CounterpartAsking Probing QuestionsAssertivenessDemonstrating Understanding of the Other Party’s PositionGathering All the Relevant FactsPlanningPublic SpeakingRemaining CalmStrategic PlanningWriting ContractsWriting Proposals How to Make Your Skills Stand Out ADD RELEVANT SKILLS TO YOUR RESUME: As you scan the job posting, highlight the specific qualifications and skills the employer is seeking. Be sure to incorporate your most relevant skills into your resume. HIGHLIGHT SKILLS IN YOUR COVER LETTER: Take the time to write a cover letter that focuses on how you're qualified for the job. SHARE EXAMPLES IN YOUR JOB INTERVIEW: Before the interview, take the time to create a list of examples of when you've used your negotiating skills. Be ready to share them during the interview. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. O*NET OnLine. "Work Activities — Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others." Accessed Oct. 20, 2021. Management Study HQ. "Characteristics of Negotiation," Accessed Oct. 20, 2021.