Good negotiators share these traits

President John F. Kennedy said it best: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

Yet so many people fear the negotiation process — and they're not prepared for it. But experts agree that you can't win at negotiations without sharpening your skills. Here are some characteristics of great negotiators you should aim to master.


Katie Donovan, a negotiation and equal-pay consultant in Boston, likens negotiating to strategic storytelling. You're essentially convincing someone why you're suitable for a job or task, through evidence of experience or examples of past achievements

You must research the market value of the job, translate your accomplishments into how you will impact your employer and create responses to overcome objections.

"Put all three together and you are creating a business argument that includes data of why your employer should spend more to get the job done," she said.

It helps to know you're the perspective of those listening to your story. Thus empathy is another quality that helps in negotiation.


The best negotiators have done their homework.

"They understand the people they are negotiating with. They have practiced clearly articulating how their skills and talents match what is desired in the position. Nothing is left to chance," said Jill Johnson, president and founder of Johnson Consulting Services in Minneapolis.

They're also prepared to not take anything personally.

Johnson said negotiations are not about your worth as a person. By leaving your emotions out, you will be better prepared to negotiate from a position of strength.


Angela Nuttle, an author and corporate talent expert in Indianapolis, said showing up prepared and feeling courageous requires shutting down self-defeating thoughts that tell you are not worthy enough to negotiate.

She added that the ability to connect and establish a relationship also is critical.

"This means being curious, being succinct with your introduction, and delving into what is important to the person across for you. Most importantly, be prepared to give something instead of taking right off the bat," she said.


Johnson agreed that you have to know that you can walk away from. Those who stick to their values often get what they want.

"In most negotiations, people fail to know what their personal deal-breaker is," she said. "Know what it the walk-away point is for you and stick to it."

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.