Boost your negotiation skills

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You may find yourself having to negotiate within the workplace for various reasons, including salary, promotion or requesting time off for your studies among other things.

But for any trainee, negotiating can be an extremely daunting thought so, before you step into one with a new employer or your current boss, there are some things you should consider.

Before entering a meeting, it is extremely important to prepare. The ideal preparation includes determining goals, areas for trade and alternatives to the stated goals.

In addition, consider studying the history of relevant parties and, if possible, consider other negotiations with colleagues to try to work out possible areas of agreement and common goals. Past precedents and outcomes can set the tone for current negotiations.


Negotiators have the skills to listen actively to the other party during the debate. Active listening involves the ability to read body language as well as verbal communication.

It is important to listen to the other party to find areas for compromise during the meeting. Instead of spending the bulk of the time in negotiation expounding the virtues of his viewpoint, the skilled negotiator will spend more time listening to the other party.

Time it right

You have got to get your timing right. Requesting a meeting with your boss right after you have completed an impressive piece of work could increase your chances of a positive discussion.

Approaching your boss in the middle of a critical project, or at a particularly busy time, may not give you the result you want, so think carefully about when would be best to speak with your manager.


When negotiating, preparation is essential. You need to build a watertight business case for your request to help the person you are negotiating with make a reasonable decision.

Always be realistic, consider your reason, think carefully about your motivations and be ready to demonstrate how you add value to the business when building your case.

As a trainee you want to make a good impression, and it is possible that assumptions will be made before you enter the meeting - another reason why preparing is so important.

Remain professional

No matter what it is you are negotiating, it is important that you remain professional and polite throughout the process.

Remember that you are still in a business environment; you need to be assertive but must also stay calm and focused and avoid becoming emotional, even if the conversation is not going the way you would like.


Always remember that ‘no’ might sometimes just mean ‘not now’, and there may be an opportunity to revisit your request at a later date.

Even if the outcome doesn’t pan out as you had hoped, having the conversation with your boss - if handled well - might also give you a clearer idea of where you are heading, now that you have started your professional career, and what you need to do to reach the next step. So there are still positives that you can take from it.

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