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The Accidental Negotiator

Updated: Jan 24, 2023

Ever needed to conduct a negotiation at work, but felt like you were making it up as you went along? In this article, we examine the phenomenon of the Accidental Negotiator.

It is a common mistake to think of negotiation as being the same as selling, or perhaps as a skill that is only relevant to Sales, Procurement or externally facing roles.

The reality is that most roles in the modern workplace present scenarios where all parties cannot get 100% of what they want and when persuasion alone will not achieve a resolution.

Does this sound familiar in your world?

If you manage people, manage vendors or need to build internal consensus, it should do.

The Hidden Problem

Outside of Sales and Procurement, many people end up in the role of negotiator as an accident of their wider career development, rather than actively seeking roles that require negotiation as a core competency.

Accident or not, expecting anybody to negotiate effectively without any formal negotiation training can be a recipe for poor performance and considerable stress!

Consider the situations below:

  • The Human Resources Manager negotiating packages and settlement agreements

  • The Finance Team chasing down bad debts, in conflict with a Sales function not wanting their customers hassled

  • The Marketing graduate, struggling to enforce project deadlines with a creative agency

These situations represent opportunities to either create or give away value, both for the individuals concerned and for their organisations.

This is particularly true of senior leaders, who may find themselves called upon to intercede in an active negotiation, acting as a point of escalation.

Many senior-level participants in our negotiation courses report lack of direct negotiation experience as being a significant source of professional insecurity, especially when promoted to lead teams who need to negotiate externally.

The Impact of Negotiation Training

For this hidden army of accidental negotiators, developing effective negotiation skills can be transformative for individual careers and of huge financial impact to employers.

Beyond the obvious benefits associated with improved commercial outcomes, the positive impact that negotiation training can have on negotiations as a source of stress is considerable and makes sense intuitively.

In this sense, negotiation training is a bit like learning to dance. If you are taught some basic steps, then not only will you be a better dancer, but you are less likely to let fear or self-consciousness prevent you from dancing in the first place!

Our negotiation training has taught these steps to clients from HR, Finance, Operations, Marketing and many other functions, all of whom now have the right toolkit to navigate some of the most emotive conversations that occur in business.

To discover more about negotiation and the wide range of negotiation courses available, visit us at


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