Negotiation skills for project managers

skills Even more, the job of the PM is never over as they have to mitigate conflicts, find solutions that will keep everyone happy, and make sure the team maintains its motivation and productivity. The PM is constantly juggling several hats, each with their own specific skill requirement, but the power of negotiation can be the ultimate ace up your sleeve.


In this article, we discuss the most important negotiation skills for project managers. Even more, we talked to leader project managers in different spheres to hear their opinion on this topic. Read on to learn more about crucial negotiation skills for project managers and what you can do to actually improve them.

Learning Never Stops

Negotiation includes elements from a wide array of fields such as human behavior, psychology, culture, communication, body language, and more. As a result, it is an ever-evolving art that requires constant nurturing with high-quality resources.

Luckily, in today’s technologically advanced world, you have the opportunity to access all sorts of resources. For instance, some people prefer the compressed version of online courses while others enjoy browsing a really good book on the topic.

Be Prepared to Go Up or Down

It’s a negotiation, right? Even though you know what you want, it doesn’t mean you are going to get exactly that. In fact, many specialists advise setting higher expectations so you can negotiate down from there.

However, you may have the opportunity to get a better result than you initially provisioned. The secret is to make sure you are not as set in your ways that you won’t accept better.

According to Peter Mead, the head of marketing at Bitcoin “Compromise is crucial. Negotiations are always about “give and take”. If you go in demanding and not budging your end, it can shut a deal down with a potential client, or if it’s with an internal team you will come off as autocratic. Autocratic managers are outdated and will fall by the wayside very quickly by losing the respect and buy-in of your team very very quickly.”

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Create a Positive Environment

There is solid research that proves our brain works better when we are happy. Moreover, according to the same research, happy people are more productive and achieve goals faster and more efficiently.

The same goes with negotiation too. Happier people are more willing to compromise because they will mirror your state of positivity. In addition, a happy brain is more likely to find alternate solutions that will satisfy all the parties involved, which can lead the negotiations on.

Be Clear About Your Expectations

Adam Hempenstall, founder and CEO of  Better Proposals, told us that “As a project manager, one of the most important negotiation skills you need to master is called anchoring. Simply put, anchoring is establishing your expectations early on in the negotiation process, i.e. telling everyone involved exactly what you want done and how. The idea is that if you anchor early on in the process, you set expectations for how things will take turn later on and essentially, your guidelines will be the starting point for the rest of the negotiation. If you use it wisely, you can lead the entire negotiation process in the way you want to.”

By setting clear expectations from the start, you’re showing everyone involved in the negotiation that you understand the process and possibly share their views on the matter. Now, there may be disagreements (it’s a negotiation after all), but you start from a position of power, which is important.

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Learn to Listen

Negotiation is a dance. While you may be in the lead (by setting clear expectations), you still need to listen to your partners and understand their needs.

As Andres Lares from the Shapiro Negotiations Institute told us, one important skill is “Listening. A deep discovery of the wants and needs of the other parties is critical in getting to an optimal solution.”

If each participant would push for their own agenda, without listening and understanding the others’ point of view, the discussions would never end and everyone would come out incredibly frustrated. Sure, there will be moments when you feel you’re not being heard, but this is why listening is crucial.

Wrap Up

As you see, negotiation is quite similar to being in a long-term relationship. If you want things to move along, you must be prepared to compromise but you also need to know how to protect your boundaries. In addition, if you learn to listen and create a positive environment, you only stand to gain value.