The ability to reach an agreement or compromise with others through discussion.


Negotiation is getting all you can at the least cost possible while leaving the other side reasonably positive, as well. The best kind of resolution is called a 'win-win' where both sides go away with exactly what they wanted. More likely is that both sides gets enough to feel good about the process. A win-lose negotiation is when one side receives much benefit and the other side leaves with relatively nothing or very little.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.Matthew 5:9

Skilled Characteristics

  • Composed

    Can negotiate skillfully in tough situations with both internal and external groups

  • Calm

    Can settle differences with minimum noise

  • Relational

    Can get what they want without damaging relationships

  • Balanced

    Can be both direct and forceful as well as diplomatic

  • Trustworthy

    Quickly gains the trust of other parties to the negotiations

  • Timing

    Has a good sense of timing for when to listen, ask, or suggest

“The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people half way.”

– Henry Boyle

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Poor Results

    Not a good deal maker; doesn’t come away with much

  • Ineffective

    May use ineffective tactics—too hard or too soft, may have to win every battle or gives away too much to get the agreement

  • Poor Facilitator

    Poor conflict manager, trouble dealing with attack, contention or non-negotiable points

  • Fear

    May hold back and be afraid to take tough stands

  • Poor Listener

    Has a difficult time truly listening to both sides

  • Biased

    May not seek or know how to find common ground

  • Too Direct

    May not know how to be diplomatic, direct and polite

“All the mistakes I ever made were when I wanted to say ‘No’ and said ‘Yes’.”

– Moss Hart

Causes of Weakness

  • Anxiety

    Can’t handle high pressure situations

  • Approach

    Come on too hard or too soft

  • Softy

    Give in too much or too early and easily

  • Competitive

    Has to win every battle

  • Unfair

    Have trouble reaching equitable or fair agreements

  • Not Neutral

    Has trouble when the other side argues strongly

  • Nerves

    Nervous or fearful about negotiating

  • Dislikes Conflict

    Not a good bargainer

  • Unfriendly

    Poor interpersonal skills – other people don’t want to enter into discussions with him/her

  • Intense

    Too serious and intense about things – can’t loosen up or relax

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.”

– John F. Kennedy


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Boundaries

    ESTABLISH RAPPORT AND BOUNDARIES: Understand both parties needs and wants and the relative importance of each. Create a comfortable environment for the meeting. Have each side talk about its goals, starting positions and any boundaries. Give reasons first, positions last.

  • Avoid Rigid Positions

    AVOID RIGID POSITIONS: Be able to adjust your position and your wants. If you can’t, your ego is getting the best of you. If you can’t walk away until you get ‘X’, you’ll probably either give in too much or blow the negotiation.

  • Start Simple

    START SIMPLE: Begin on a positive note by listing what both sides agree on and write it on a whiteboard. Next talk about what each side is willing to ‘trade’ related to needs, wants or expectations. Finally, discuss the most difficult topics one at a time. Discuss what each side would be willing to give up IF they could have something in particular in exchange.

  • Use Questions

    USE QUESTIONS: Ask questions to clarify each side’s position, wants, and needs. Ask why, what led you to that position, what the principle is behind it, etc. Don’t negotiate based on assumptions. Negotiate based upon facts.

  • Stay Cool

    STAY COOL: You may experience other people’s passion, defensiveness, blame, attacks, innuendoes and even threats. Separate the people from the heat they deliver and the people from the roles they play in the negotiations. Deal with people issues directly but separately and maybe off line during a break. Try to deal candidly with the toughest critic first. Avoid direct blaming remarks; describe the impasse and possible solutions. In response to unreasonable proposals, attacks, or a non-answer to a question, you can always say nothing. Let the other side vent frustration, blow off steam, but don’t react. Return to facts, and the problem before the group, staying away from personal clashes.

  • Arbitration

    ARBITRATION: When there is a true impasse, suggest a third person who is acceptable to both parties to help resolve the remaining conflicts. Use a third party to write up each side’s interests and keep suggesting compromises until you can agree. Continue to move closer until each side can improve it no more. Or if time is an issue, pass it up to a higher authority.