By Dale Isip

Whether you would like to purchase something for your business, discuss compensation for a new job, or ask for a raise, having negotiation skills is essential. Using negotiation skills may not be your default approach — but learning general negotiating principles can help you reach effective agreements.

Good negotiation skills could increase your revenue, limit underemployment, and help you reach your full potential at work. These skills are not as intuitive you may think, however. The following is a guide on how to best develop negotiation skills.

Assess the Situation

If there is a reason to negotiate at work, there is likely a conflict of interest between two parties. This conflict of interest could be between a customer and a business, management and employees, or workers and other workers. Assessing the situation, the disagreement, is the first step in the negotiation process.

It is important to realize that a disagreement is not necessarily an egregious thing. In a salary negotiation, for example, an employee generally seeks higher compensation to fulfill needs such as living expenses. The employer, conversely, may have expenses of their own – making neither side’s wants wholly unreasonable.

Understanding and Empathy

Assessing a negotiation situation requires an understanding of the other side. This means getting a sense of what the opposing party has, what problems they face currently, and ultimately, what solutions the party is entertaining to solve those problems.

To reach this understanding, research is a requirement for effective negotiations, but having empathy can play a significant role as well. In negotiation, empathy is being sensitive and aware of the needs of the opposing party.

Try to gain an informed understanding of the opposing party, based on their statements and your own research. From this, you can know their worries, their fears, and their concerns – and get a sense of what they really want, and how to reach a solution from there.

Recognize Your Value

If you are a participant in a business negotiation, one thing is certain: you have value. This may be a monetary value, but also may be your knowledge, skills, and experience. These things are worth something to the opposing party – otherwise, they would not be engaging with you.

Recognize this value and make the most of it. In a salary negotiation, for example, a worker may realize they have a skill or amount of experience that makes them worthy of better pay. If the opposing party’s views of your value do not match your own, either work with them or entertain other alternatives.


An accurate assessment of your own needs can help in the compromise stage. Knowing this, you can ask first about what the other side is willing to offer, putting yourself in a position of decision. Have a BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) ready if you need it.

The best negotiations result in a beneficial result for both parties. With assessment, understanding, empathy, and a sense of your own value, you can negotiate fully and effectively.