5 Things All Successful Negotiators Know

UPDATED: March 25, 2020
PUBLISHED: March 22, 2017
5 Things All Successful Negotiators Know

According to the World Economic Forum, negotiation will be one of the top 10 skills required for success in 2020. Don’t wait until 2019 to start developing your skills; now is the time to get ahead and learn how to negotiate.

Related: 15 Negotiation Tips From People Who Always Get Their Way

Start with these top strategies—five things all successful negotiators know:

1. Always remember, the cost of asking is lower than the cost of not asking.

It can be nerve-racking to enter into a negotiation with a superior, but it usually pays off. As Wayne Gretzky famously said, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” So how does this apply to negotiations? If you don’t ask for it, nobody will. Whether it is for a higher salary, more vacation days or a better assignment, negotiate for yourself. If you want something, then ask for it!

2. Know what the other side has to offer and make your requests accordingly.

In other words, be reasonable. Although it is smart to ask for a little more than you expect to get, don’t start your negotiation asking for way more than you could possibly expect to receive. If you know your company’s budget, ask for a salary increase within that amount. If you want a few more vacation days, don’t ask for two months paid leave so you can backpack around Europe. Have high expectations, but not so high that your request is out of the realm of possibilities.

Related: Negotiate Your Way Through Life

3. Know what the job requires.

Asking for more also means more work, so make sure you prepare for your new responsibilities. Just like you should know what your company can reasonably provide, you should also know what your capabilities are—we all want that raise or promotion, but we are not all necessarily qualified for it. If you negotiate for a job or assignment that you cannot successfully complete, it will damage your credibility in your next negotiation.

4. Always aim to do what is best for yourself and for the group.

We all enter into negotiations trying to get exactly what we want, but it is important to remember that the other person or group has the same mindset. Your goal should be to achieve the best possible outcome for everyone involved. Ask for what you want, but be ready to make some concessions. If the other side is angered by how the negotiation is going, they might not agree to anything at all.

5. All aspects of life and work can be negotiated.

You might think that you only negotiate at work and that you only learned to do it as an adult. But it is likely that you’ve actually been negotiating your entire life. As a kid, you bargained with your parents to let you eat an extra piece of cake or stay up an hour later. In college, you negotiated with your roommates about living space rules. When you got married, you negotiated with your spouse about all aspects of your wedding. As a parent, you negotiated with your child to get them to go to school or go to bed. So take skills that you’ve learned from these life negotiations and apply them to work. You just might be an expert negotiator and just not know it yet.

Related: How I Learned to (at Least Try to) Get My Way

Tanna Bogursky, director of communications at the Negotiation Institute, is a recent graduate of Columbia University, where she majored in English Literature and Portuguese studies. She joined TNI and the WIN Summit looking to develop her skills as negotiator. She intends to utilize these newfound skills to help her develop relationships and master negotiations as she prepares for a career in law. Tanna will be attending Columbia University Law School in the fall of 2017.