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How to Demonstrate Negotiation Skills

The Scotwork Team


Negotiation skills, unlike tangible hard skills such as data analytics or graphic design, can be challenging to demonstrate. While proficiency in software or design programs can be easily showcased through portfolios or practical exercises, negotiating skills are often subtler and more contextual.

Negotiation skills are not confined to formal bargaining tables, but it is almost rare to demonstrate them out of context. In this article, we are going to dive deeper into why it is quite a challenge to demonstrate negotiation skills and, despite the difficulties, why it is still important to make your negotiation skills known and how to do so.

Why is it challenging to demonstrate negotiation skills?

Negotiation is subjective and situational

The success of negotiation varies and depends on the context and individual perspectives. What works in one scenario might not be as effective in another. Unlike hard skills like coding and bookkeeping, where there tend to be clear right or wrong answers, negotiation involves navigating through complex human interactions where success is not always black and white.

Negotiation is soft skills-dominated

Negotiation relies heavily on soft skills such as communication skills, empathy, active listening, and emotional intelligence. These skills are harder to quantify and demonstrate compared to hard skills. While you can point to a completed project or a piece of code as evidence of your technical abilities, showcasing your ability to understand and influence people's emotions and decisions is more nuanced.

Negotiation often takes a longer time to make an impact

The impact of negotiation skills often manifests over the long term rather than immediately. A successful negotiation might lead to stronger relationships, better deals, or smoother collaborations down the line, but these outcomes may not be immediately apparent or quantifiable. What's more, those who facilitated the negotiation may not remain in their roles long enough to reap the rewards before their efforts come to full fruition.

Negotiation and its outcomes are confidential

Negotiations often involve sensitive information or confidential discussions, making it challenging to openly share details or outcomes. Unlike a website launched or an article published that can be showcased publicly, negotiation processes and outcomes are often kept private, limiting opportunities for others to observe or learn from them.

Negotiation requires adaptability and creativity

Effective negotiators must adapt their approach to different situations and personalities. They need to think on their feet, come up with creative solutions, and pivot their strategies as circumstances evolve. This adaptability and creativity are more complicated to capture in a static demonstration compared to the tangible outputs of hard skills.

Why is it important to demonstrate negotiation skills?

When you demonstrate strong negotiation skills, you implicitly showcase a range of other valuable abilities.

Effective negotiation allows individuals to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes in both simple and complex situations. Whether it's negotiating a job offer, a business deal, or resolving conflicts, the ability to communicate persuasively and find common ground is essential.

As you negotiate, you need to assert your needs and interests confidently while respecting the concerns and perspectives of others. This, in turn, fosters stronger relationships, whether in the workplace, within communities, or in personal interactions. Thus, as you demonstrate negotiation skills, it highlights that you can navigate challenging situations and reach favourable agreements, which ultimately contribute to overall business success.

What's more, successful negotiations demand adaptability and flexibility. Since circumstances can change rapidly during a negotiation, it requires you to adjust your approach or pivot to different strategies. This showcases your resilience and ability to thrive in dynamic environments.

Overall, showcasing negotiation skills implies a host of underlying abilities, including effective communication, problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptability, and emotional intelligence. These competencies are highly valued in various aspects of life, from professional settings to personal relationships, making negotiation skills a powerful asset in any context.

5 ways to demonstrate negotiation skills

While negotiation skills are more difficult to quantify and demonstrate compared to hard skills, there are still effective ways to showcase these invaluable soft skills. Here's how.

1. Showcase negotiation achievements on resumes and cover letters

Craft your resume and cover letter to spotlight your negotiation skills. Leverage action verbs such as "negotiated," "mediated," and "resolved," which are indicative of your active engagement in negotiation processes.

It is, though challenging, crucial to quantify your achievements by providing tangible evidence of your negotiation successes. For instance, you can specify:

Successfully negotiated a 20% reduction in costs or resolved a longstanding dispute, leading to a 30% increase in team productivity.

This quantification not only substantiates your claims but also showcases the direct impact of your negotiation skills on business outcomes.

2. Share negotiation experiences during interviews and assessments

During interviews, bring your negotiation skills to life through storytelling. Share compelling narratives that illuminate the strategies you have employed in past negotiations and the favourable results that ensued.

Highlight your ability to listen actively and empathise, as these are cornerstone qualities of a skilled negotiator. Discuss how you prepared for a complex negotiation, the negotiation tactics you used to navigate obstacles, and how empathy led to a breakthrough in negotiations. This can demonstrate your depth of understanding and practical application of negotiation principles.

3. Highlight negotiation successes through portfolios and testimonials

Compile a portfolio that includes case studies or summaries of projects where your negotiation skills were pivotal to success. This portfolio serves as a tangible record of your ability to secure beneficial agreements.

Add an extra layer of credibility with testimonials or endorsements from colleagues, clients, or supervisors who have witnessed your negotiation skills firsthand. These testimonials should not only affirm your negotiation abilities but also highlight your knack for fostering collaborative and mutually beneficial solutions.

4. Demonstrate negotiation expertise through online presence and networking

Establish and maintain a robust online presence that reflects your negotiation expertise. Engage in industry-related discussions or forums, sharing insights and contributing to conversations about negotiation.

For example, you can contribute to LinkedIn Collaborative Articles on negotiation by sharing your insights, advice, or even real-life lessons learned to establish your authority among negotiation professionals and enthusiasts alike. By posting articles, blog entries, or analyses on negotiation topics, you underscore your knowledge and authority in the field.

Networking with negotiation professionals or mentors online can further your learning and credibility. Such engagements not only display your active involvement in the negotiation community but also your commitment to staying abreast of current trends and practices.

5. Pursue continuous learning and improvement in negotiation

Emphasise your commitment to perpetual growth in negotiation by engaging in ongoing education, whether through courses, certifications, or workshops focused on negotiation.

Highlighting your dedication to refining your skills through feedback and new insights during interviews and networking opportunities signals a proactive and adaptive mindset. This demonstrates your understanding that negotiation is a dynamic skill set requiring lifelong learning.

Strengthen your negotiation skills with Scotwork

With the abovementioned strategies, you can better articulate and demonstrate the value you bring through your negotiation skills, despite the inherent challenges in showcasing such complex, soft skills.

Mastering negotiation skills can be tricky, especially when trying to demonstrate them effectively. But Scotwork is here to help as we offer negotiation skills training courses that can provide you with a strong base in negotiation and turn even more reserved people into experts.

We focus on real-world practice and improving negotiation skills over time. With Scotwork, you don't just learn theories; you get to practice with real-life scenarios that aid in improving your negotiation skills in action.

Get in touch today and let us make the complex world of negotiation simpler, helping you to stand out professionally.

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