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Mastering Negotiation Skills: Essential Strategies & Examples for Success

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    Negotiation is a critical skill that can help you achieve success in all areas of your life, especially in the modern workplace. Whether you’re negotiating a new job offer, navigating complex workplace relationships, or trying to close a deal with a difficult client, strong negotiation skills are essential for achieving your goals.

    Negotiation Skills for The Modern Workplace

    Negotiation can be a daunting prospect for many of us. Despite the importance of negotiation skills, many people, especially women, struggle to negotiate effectively. This often comes from a false belief that the other people are better and more experienced than we are. Or that negotiation is an inherently difficult skill to master. Nothing could be further from the truth, though. Anyone can learn the basics and develop enough techniques to become an effective negotiator.

    In this article, we will demystify the art of negotiation and provide you with simple but powerful strategies to help you negotiate with confidence and achieve your desired outcomes. So, whether you’re negotiating a job offer, a business deal, or navigating a challenging workplace situation, we’ve got you covered. So let’s dive in and discover how you can become a master negotiator!

    Two businesswomen negotiating something at work. One is in a brown sweater and the other in a light pink shirt.

    Why You Need to Be a Good Negotiator

    Negotiation is a crucial skill that can open up new opportunities and lead to success in all areas of life. Unfortunately, many people, especially women, struggle with negotiating effectively. This is often due to a fear of confrontation or a lack of confidence. Additionally, societal expectations and gender biases can play a role in how women are perceived and treated during negotiations.

    Women are often socialized to prioritize relationships over competition, which can make them more hesitant to engage in negotiations. Additionally, studies have shown that women are more likely to face pushback when negotiating assertively, as they may be perceived as too aggressive or demanding. This can lead to a reluctance to negotiate and a tendency to settle for less than they deserve.

    Simplest Way to Improve Your Negotiation Skills

    The simplest way to improve your negotiation skills is to practice regularly. Start small by negotiating with friends or family members on small things like where to eat or what movie to watch. This will help you build confidence and develop your negotiation style.

    Once you feel more comfortable, move on to negotiating in the workplace or in other areas of your life. It’s also important to address any underlying fears or biases that may be holding you back from negotiating effectively. By practicing regularly and addressing any internal barriers, you can become a more confident and effective negotiator.

    How You Can Build Relationships

    Once you’re in the negotiation, take the time to build rapport with the other party. This can involve small talk, finding common interests, and showing empathy towards their concerns. It’s important to actively listen to the other party and show that you understand their perspective. Repeat back their points to show that you’re paying attention and validate their concerns.

    Address concerns respectfully: If the other party has concerns or objections, address them in a respectful manner. This shows that you are willing to work with them and find a mutually beneficial solution. By building relationships in this way, you can create a positive negotiation environment. And increase the chances of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement.

    President Trump in a blue suit, white shirt and red tie with a Americal flag and the White House in the background.

    The Art of The Deal: Master Persuader Trump

    “The Art of the Deal” by Donald Trump offers many insights and techniques for improving negotiation skills. Here are some of the easiest lessons from the book that can be applied to everyday negotiations:

    Focus On The Relationship

    Trump understands the importance of building relationships in negotiations. He often spends time getting to know the other party, finding common ground, and building rapport. This can lead to a more productive and positive negotiation.

    How Trump Does Relationships

    In the 1980s, Trump sought to build the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, but the site was owned by the city and required many permits and approvals. Trump understood that building a positive relationship with city officials was crucial to the project’s success. He met with Mayor Ed Koch, gained the support of other officials and community leaders, and addressed their concerns respectfully. As a result, he was able to gain the city’s approval for the project, which became a major success.

    To build relationships like Trump did, it’s important to start by understanding the other party’s perspective and finding common ground. Before the negotiation, do your research on the other party to understand their goals, values, and priorities. This will help you identify areas of potential agreement and show that you are taking their concerns seriously.

    A woman and man giving each other a high five in the office as they mirror each other.

    Start With a Strong Position (Anchoring)

    Anchoring is a well-known negotiation tactic that involves setting a high or low starting point for the negotiation. This starting point then serves as a reference point for the rest of the negotiation, influencing the other party’s perception of what is reasonable and what isn’t. Trump often starts negotiations with a bold position or offer, which sets the tone for the rest of the negotiation.

    How Trump Anchors

    Anchoring is a well-known negotiation tactic that involves setting a high or low starting point for the negotiation. This starting point then serves as a reference point for the rest of the negotiation, influencing the other party’s perception of what is reasonable and what isn’t.

    Trump is a master at using this technique in negotiations. In the 1980s, Trump was interested in buying the Mar-a-Lago estate, which was valued at around $20 million. However, the estate was owned by a wealthy heiress named Marjorie Merriweather Post, who had previously rejected several offers for the property. Trump knew that he would need to make a strong initial offer to get Post’s attention and set the tone for the rest of the negotiation.

    Trump’s team presented Post with an offer of $15 million, which was significantly lower than the property’s value but still a substantial sum. This offer served as an anchor, influencing Post’s expectations and setting the stage for further negotiations. Over the next several months, Trump’s team continued to negotiate with Post, eventually reaching a final agreement to purchase the property for $10 million.

    How to Use Anchoring in Negotiations

    To use anchoring in negotiations, you should start by doing your research and identifying a strong starting point for your position. This starting point should be realistic and based on objective information such as market prices or industry standards. However, it should also be bold and ambitious, as this will set the tone for the rest of the negotiation.

    Once you have established your anchor, you should present it confidently and clearly to the other party. This can be done verbally or in writing, depending on the situation. You should also be prepared to justify your anchor with supporting evidence and reasoning.

    After presenting your anchor, be prepared for the other party to push back or challenge it. They may offer their own anchor or try to negotiate from a different starting point. You should be flexible and open to discussing alternatives. But also firm in your position if you believe it is justified.

    Throughout the negotiation, you should be aware of how the other party is reacting to your anchor and adjust your approach accordingly. If they are receptive to your position, you may be able to push for more favorable terms. If they are resistant, you may need to make concessions or explore other options.


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    The Power of Persuasion as a Negotiation Skill

    Trump’s persuasion skills are a key aspect of his negotiation style, and he uses them to great effect to sway the other party towards his desired outcome. One example of this can be seen in his negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un regarding the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

    How Trump Uses Persuasion

    In 2018, Trump and Kim Jong-un held a historic summit in Singapore to discuss the possibility of North Korea giving up its nuclear weapons program. During the negotiations, Trump used his persuasion skills to try to convince Kim to agree to denuclearization.

    Trump used vivid language and bold statements to make his point and build momentum in the negotiations. For example, he described the potential economic benefits that North Korea could reap if it were to give up its nuclear weapons program, saying that it could become “an economic powerhouse.”

    Trump also used flattery to try to win over Kim, praising him as a strong leader and telling him that they had a “special bond.” This tactic was aimed at building a positive relationship with Kim and creating a sense of trust between the two leaders.

    Through these persuasive efforts, Trump was able to reach an agreement with Kim to work towards denuclearization. While the outcome of the negotiations has been mixed, with North Korea continuing to pursue its nuclear program. Here Trump demonstrated how persuasion skills can be effective in negotiation.

    How You Can Use Persuasion

    Through these persuasive efforts, Trump was able to reach an agreement with Kim to work towards denuclearization. While the outcome of the negotiations has been mixed, with North Korea continuing to pursue its nuclear program. This example shows how Trump’s persuasion skills can be effective in negotiation.

    Man and woman sitting on chairs and working on their iPads

    Be Willing to Walk Away From a Deal

    This signals to the other party that you are not desperate or emotionally invested in the negotiation. This can make the other party more willing to make concessions and more likely to offer you a better deal. It demonstrates that you have alternatives or options outside of the negotiation. This can give you more leverage and make the other party more motivated to reach an agreement with you.

    Third, it can help to protect your bottom line and prevent you from agreeing to a bad deal just to avoid conflict or confrontation. By showing that you are willing to walk away, you can maintain control over the negotiation and ensure that you are getting the best possible outcome for yourself.

    How Trump Shows Willingness to Walk Away from a Deal

    Trump is known for showing a willingness to walk away from a deal during negotiations. He believes that this sends a strong message to the other party, demonstrating that he is not desperate for a deal and is willing to wait for the right opportunity.

    When Trump was negotiating the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017, he demonstrated a willingness to walk away from the deal when it wasn’t going in his favor. After several failed attempts to reach an agreement, Trump ultimately ended negotiations and moved on to other issues.

    When To Walk Away from a Deal

    By showing a willingness to walk away from a deal, you can demonstrate that are not afraid to stand up for your own interests. You will only agree to a deal when there is enough in it for you. This approach can be effective in negotiations, as it sends a clear message to the other party that you are not desperate for a deal. And are willing to wait for the right opportunity.

    Overall, demonstrating a willingness to walk away from a deal and trusting your gut instincts can be important negotiating tactics. By showing that you are not desperate for a deal and are willing to stand firm on your position, you may be able to secure a more favorable agreement. Additionally, by listening to your intuition, you may be able to avoid bad deals and protect your interests.

      Using The Contrast Principle to Negotiate

      The contrast principle is a cognitive bias that influences our perception of things based on the immediate context or comparison. Essentially, it is the tendency for our brain to emphasize the difference between two things that are presented to us in quick succession, making the second thing seem more extreme or impactful than it actually is.

      In the context of making deals and negotiations, the contrast principle can be used to influence the other party’s perception of value or fairness. By presenting an initial offer or proposal that is extreme or unreasonable, the other party may perceive a subsequent offer or proposal as more reasonable or acceptable. Even if it is still not completely favorable to them.

      For example, in a salary negotiation, an employer might present an initial job offer that is significantly lower than what the candidate was expecting. This offer serves as an anchor, influencing the candidate’s perception of what is reasonable for the position. The employer can then make a slightly improved offer that is still lower than the candidate’s ideal salary, but seems more reasonable in comparison to the initial offer. The candidate may be more likely to accept this improved offer due to the contrast principle.

      It’s important to note that using the contrast principle should be done ethically and in good faith. Intentionally presenting unreasonable or unfair proposals can damage relationships and harm the negotiation process. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of the potential for the other party to recognize and counteract the influence of the contrast principle on their perception.

      Advise For Specific Negotiation Skills

      Negotiating in special situations can be a unique challenge, requiring specific strategies and approaches to achieve success. Whether negotiating with a difficult personality, handling a crisis situation, or navigating cultural differences, it’s important to be prepared and adaptable in these situations. Let’s explore some tips and techniques for negotiating in these special situations. And how you can achieve positive outcomes.

      Salary On a New Job Offer

      Negotiating a salary on a new job offer can be intimidating, but it’s important to remember that the offer is just a starting point. Do your research on industry standards and salary ranges. Be willing to negotiate for better pay or benefits. Remember to be confident in your value and what you bring to the table.

      Contract Negotiation Skills

      Contract negotiation skills are also important in many workplaces. Before entering a negotiation, make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the contract. Be clear about your needs and wants. Be willing to compromise on minor issues. But stand firm on major ones that are important to you.

      Negotiating In a Matrix Situation

      Negotiating in a matrix situation, where multiple parties are involved, can be especially challenging. In these situations, it’s important to focus on finding win-win solutions that benefit everyone involved. Keep an open mind and be willing to listen to all parties. Be creative in finding solutions that meet everyone’s needs. Remember that negotiation is a collaborative process, and the goal should be to create a positive outcome for everyone involved.

      Putting It Together: The 80/20 Approach for Your Negotiation Skills

      The purpose of this advice is not to turn you into an expert negotiator. If you need to negotiate for a living, professional training is necessary. These steps are for those seeking to improve as negotiators. In most workplace situations, advocating for a position or ensuring that your needs are represented requires some form of negotiation.

      The techniques described here are easy to implement and provide a significant return on your negotiation efforts. They are a prime example of the 80/20 rule, achieving 80% negotiating ability with just a 20% effort. By using these techniques, you gain a significant advantage in your negotiation skills.

      Trump: The Art Of The Deal by Donald Trump & Tony Schwartz

      Cover page of the book Trump: The Art Of The Deal


      Remember, negotiating is a skill that can be learned and improved upon with practice. With the right mindset and approach, you can achieve your goals and come out ahead in negotiations. By using these proven tactics, you can build stronger relationships, set yourself up for success. And achieve the outcomes you desire.

      So, if you want to become a better negotiator, take the time to learn and apply these techniques. With perseverance, you can overcome obstacles and achieve your goals, no matter what challenges lie ahead. So, go ahead and give it a try! The next time you negotiate, approach it like Donald Trump and see how it can benefit you.

      Shaun Mendonsa, PhD is an influencing expert and pharmaceutical development leader. He writes on the topics of influence and persuasion, and develops next generation drugs in human pharma by advising international pharmaceutical CROs and CMOs. He can be reached at [email protected].


      Donald Trump, Leadership Development, Personal Development, Anchoring; Negotiation, 80/020 Rule, Persuasion, Contrast Principle, Negotiation Skills, Career Development

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