Asking for What You Want: Mastering the Art of Negotiation

Negotiating is an essential skill that can help you achieve your goals in both your personal and professional life.

By learning how to ask for what you want effectively, you can improve your relationships, secure better job opportunities, and enjoy a more satisfying life.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover everything you need to know about mastering the art of negotiation, from understanding the importance of preparation and research to knowing when to walk away from a deal. Let's dive in!

Why Negotiation Matters

Negotiation is a critical skill for success in life because it enables you to advocate for your needs and interests. Through negotiation, you can:

Secure better job opportunities and compensation packages

Improve your relationships by addressing conflicts and finding mutually beneficial solutions

Achieve your personal and professional goals more efficiently

By developing your negotiation skills, you'll be better equipped to handle various situations and achieve the outcomes you desire.

Preparing for Negotiation

Preparation is key to a successful negotiation. Here's what you need to do before entering any negotiation.

Know Your Goals

Before you start negotiating, you must be clear about what you want to achieve. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to guide your negotiation strategy.

Understand Your Interests and Needs

Identify your underlying interests and needs, as well as those of the other party. This will help you prioritize your goals and find creative solutions that satisfy both parties' interests.

Research the Market and the Other Party

Gather information about the market, industry standards, and the other party's preferences and constraints. This will help you make informed proposals and anticipate potential objections.

Establish Your BATNA

Determine your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA). This is the best outcome you can achieve if the negotiation fails. Knowing your BATNA will help you assess the attractiveness of any proposed agreement and decide whether to accept or walk away from the deal.

Develop a Negotiation Strategy

Based on your goals, interests, research, and BATNA, develop a negotiation strategy that outlines your approach, tactics, and potential concessions.

The Negotiation Process

The negotiation process typically involves several stages. Here's an overview of each stage:

Building Rapport

Establish a positive atmosphere by building rapport with the other party. This can involve finding common ground, expressing empathy, and demonstrating respect.

Exchanging Information

Share information about your interests, needs, and goals, and encourage the other party to do the same. This will help both parties understand each other's perspectives and identify areas of agreement and disagreement.


Make proposals and counter-proposals, focusing on creating value for both parties. Use collaborative problem-solving techniques and consider various options to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Reaching Agreement

Once both parties agree on a solution, clarify the terms and conditions of the agreement, and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Implementing the Agreement

Follow through on your commitments and monitor the implementation of the agreement to ensure its success.

Essential Negotiation Skills

To become a skilled negotiator, you'll need to develop several essential skills:

Active Listening

Pay close attention to the other party's words, tone of voice, and body language. This will help you understand their interests, needs, and concerns.

Effective Communication

Express your thoughts, feelings, and proposals clearly and concisely. Use persuasive language, ask open-ended questions, and avoid aggressive or defensive behaviors.

Emotional Intelligence

Manage your emotions during the negotiation process and recognize the emotional cues of the other party. This will help you maintain a positive atmosphere and respond appropriately to different situations.


Think creatively and analytically to identify potential solutions that satisfy both parties' interests. Use a collaborative approach to problem-solving and be open to alternative options.


Be prepared to adjust your negotiation strategy and tactics in response to changing circumstances or new information. This will help you stay flexible and maintain control of the process.

Negotiating Salary and Job Benefits

One of the most important negotiations you'll face in your professional life is negotiating your salary and job benefits. Here's how to approach these negotiations:

Do Your Homework

Research industry standards, company policies, and market rates for your position. This will help you determine a realistic salary range and identify other benefits you might want to negotiate.

Know Your Value

Understand your unique skills, experiences, and achievements, and be prepared to communicate your value to the employer.

Practice Your Pitch

Practice presenting your salary expectations and justifications for your desired benefits. Be concise, confident, and professional in your delivery.

Be Prepared to Negotiate

Don't be afraid to counter-offer or negotiate non-salary benefits, such as vacation time, flexible work arrangements, or professional development opportunities.

Negotiating in Relationships and Personal Life

Negotiation is not only important in professional settings but also in your personal life and relationships. Here are some tips for navigating personal negotiations:

Be Assertive

Express your needs and desires openly and honestly, without being aggressive or confrontational.

Seek Win-Win Solutions

Look for solutions that satisfy both parties' interests, rather than trying to "win" the negotiation at the other person's expense.

Show Empathy and Understanding

Acknowledge the other person's feelings and perspectives, even if you don't agree with them. This can help build trust and cooperation.

Be Willing to Compromise

Be prepared to make concessions and find a middle ground that both parties can accept.

Knowing When to Walk Away

In some cases, it's better to walk away from a negotiation than to accept a bad deal. Here are some signs that it might be time to walk away:

The proposed agreement doesn't meet your minimum requirements or is worse than your BATNA

The other party is unwilling to compromise or make reasonable concessions

The negotiation process has become overly contentious or unproductive

Remember that walking away from a negotiation doesn't mean you've failed. It's simply a strategic decision based on your assessment of the situation and your alternatives.

Mastering the art of negotiation is a valuable skill that can help you achieve your personal and professional goals. By understanding the negotiation process, developing essential skills, and applying effective strategies, you'll be well-equipped to ask for what you want and secure the best possible outcomes in your negotiations. So, don't be afraid to stand up for your interests and pursue the life you deserve.

Written by Sarah Edwards. Want to get to know me? Say hi!

This article was originally posted for Set Apart Magazine at

Disclaimer: Sarah Edwards is not a certified or licensed mental health professional. Rather someone sharing real life experience and findings for others to find commonality and seek actionable steps needed for them.

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