Negotiation training is for everybody, not just dealmakers
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Negotiation training is for everybody, not just dealmakers

It goes without saying that some folks in your organization need strong negotiating skills — salespeople, of course, as well as anyone who makes deals with vendors or manages relationships with other outside parties.

Less obvious is why you might want to equip other employees — the rank-and-file who aren’t customer- or vendor-facing — to be great negotiators. And yet there’s a strong case for training all of your people to negotiate fluently and effectively.

What do we mean?

It’s everywhere

When you stop to think about it, you realize that just about every aspect of a person’s work life — as well as life outside the office! — calls for negotiation. Want somebody to switch shifts with you? That’s a negotiation. Need a colleague’s help with a project you’ve been assigned? That’s a negotiation. Want your teenage kid to help you paint the garage in return for the car keys on a weekend night? That’s a negotiation, too.

Some people are naturally great negotiators. They instinctively know how to give a little to get a little — or to get a lot. The rest of us need a little help; we understand we have to negotiate for what we want, but aren’t always sure how to go about it.

Some formal negotiation training can help.

The benefits

How you arrange that training is up to you, but whatever training you choose, here are a few benefits your people and organization can expect to reap:

  1. Interpersonal respect. To negotiate, a manager or employee has to recognize that other parties have legitimate positions and interests. This knowledge helps build respect for them and their preferences.
  2. A win-win culture. In some organizations, unfortunately, people play a zero-sum game; for you to win, somebody has to lose. A negotiating culture, by contrast, promotes the mindset where everybody wins.
  3. Conflict avoidance. Unresolved conflict can sap a team or organization from the inside. People who feel comfortable negotiating over disagreements can head off conflict before it gets serious.
  4. Stress relief. Much of the harmful stress that employees feel is caused by misallocations of work, with some people having too much to do and some too little. Managers can and should help rebalance the load, but employees who know how to negotiate with each other can take care of many of these problems themselves.
  5. Better understanding of the team/organization’s processes. Taking a negotiating position in a discussion with colleagues forces people to think more deeply and broadly about what the team and organization are doing and prioritizing.

In the final analysis, negotiation isn’t just about getting what you want in the moment. It’s about establishing and maintaining a fruitful relationship that will help all parties to achieve long-term goals. When that happens, the organization thrives.

This post is based in part on blog entries at and




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