So… how do you cope with negotiation? Do you launch yourself under your desk and hope the problem goes away, or do you embrace the moment as an opportunity to speak up and voice your needs and get what you want?

Like many people I used to fear negotiation. I had the impression that negotiation was all about confrontation, Them vs Us, hit first or be trampled over.

I then realised that my thinking was very old school and that modern negotiation skills involve exemplary communication skills, problem solving and building bridges, rather than walls.

So… what’s your style –  and how do you negotiate well?

Looking to develop your negotiation skills?  Here are three negotiation styles that I have seen demonstrated in the workplace.

1. The Terminator   

The Terminator is not out to make friends. Just like Arnie, they come in with guns blazing, leaving crushed broken bodies in their wake.

The Terminator will get what they want at the expense of the relationship. They will get the order, make the sale and bully people into giving them what they want, but in the process they lose a customer, have high staff turnover and you can forget about getting any repeat business.

2. The doormat

Confession – I was once a doormat. 20 years ago I was a sales rep with a medical company. I was so eager to get the order that my enthusiasm got the better of me. The supplier must have looked out the window, saw my bright eyes and shiny face and thought “This is my lucky day!”

I had no idea about negotiation and he managed to corner me into giving him an outstanding deal on our product. I ended up losing other suppliers as I couldn’t possibly offer them the same deal and I lost my job in the process. Being a doormat is not much fun.

3. Win-Win

Good negotiators know that by aiming for a win-win solution you can get what you want as well as helping the other party get what they need. To do this you need to win over the person, be a great listener and find a creative solution.

So… if you want to become a better negotiator what do you need to do?


  • Know what you need (your ‘floor’) and what you want (your ‘ceiling’).
  • Get some understanding of what the other parties needs and wants are.
  • Brainstorm the variables that may be used to negotiate with
  • Think about your BATNA – Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.
  • Brainstorm strategies and solutions to enable you to get what you want.

When you meet:

  • Demonstrate – positive body language that is non confrontational.
  • Listen – for facts and feelings.
  • Question – for depth and clarity.
  • Discuss – how both needs can be met.

Be open to discuss

  • How both your needs can be met.
  • Control your emotions (anger, greed, enthusiasm).
  • Be prepared to say ‘no’ to the request, but ‘yes’ to the person.

This preparation gives you confidence, and confidence in negotiation is a huge advantage.  Remember, negotiation skills are just another form of communication, and, like most things, will improve with practice.

Sharon Ferrier
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