Negotiation in the Workplace:

How to Be an Effective Negotiator


Many of us find negotiation to be confrontational and intimidating. We shy away from asking for what we want. Whether it’s for a job promotion, increased pay, improved benefits, or different responsibilities within a team, negotiation doesn’t come naturally for most people. We avoid taking the risk of starting an uncomfortable conversation because of our fear of rejection. And we don’t know how to ask for what we deserve. 

This past September, I attended the Live Your Potential Talk Series: the Art of Negotiation. Not surprisingly, negotiation is the number one topic of interest for participants of the Live Your Potential Women’s Leadership and Career Development program. Why? Because it’s one of the top skills for career success

That evening, the established panelists shared their wisdom and honest insights on what it takes to negotiate effectively. After the event, I was even more proactive with my own professional journey. Live Your Potential continues to thrive in creating a safe and positive community of empowering women (and men, as they also attend the events).

Here are some tangible strategies and advice from each of the panelists:

Keren Yun – Chief Marketing Officer HBH Group

❖ Don’t stop asking from the fear of rejection  

Keren has over 15 years of corporate experience in various industries such as mining, asset management, and real estate. She successfully climbed up the corporate ladder and built multiple businesses as an entrepreneur. But her professional journey was not an overnight success as she has made plenty of mistakes. Keren even shared with us her biggest negotiation regret yet. 


While being extremely discontent working at a company early on in her career, she immediately resigned and accepted another offer as soon as the opportunity came up. Her manager offered to create a more suitable role to keep her. But Keren turned down the offer to send over her proposal. She was ready to move on.

In hindsight, she realized that she had a biased, negative view of the company. Her key advice is to find a mentor to help you move forward with your professional goals. She also learned not to allow the fear of rejection to prevent her from asking questions and making requests. Rejection is sometimes the first step to negotiation, but rest assured that there will always be plenty of opportunities that lie ahead. 

Vincent Lee – Managing Director & Head of North American FX Sales CIBC World Markets

❖ Listen well, provide value, and practice negotiation

Vincent has two decades of experience working with clients and partners. He is the builder of relationships and a provider of innovative solutions. After starting his career as an intern at TD Bank in 1994, Vincent worked his way up as the Canadian Head of Institutional FX Sales before joining CIBC. Now, he works in the capital market in the bank, trading currencies and negotiating on a daily basis. 


His strategy in securing a win-win deal to balance the needs of your company and clients or partners is to think about how you can provide value. A win-win negotiation is an easy negotiation, but not always the case. Negotiation needs practice. Practice before you negotiate for any deal and listen to the other party to understand the information. Ask questions to direct the conversation. People want be heard; only then are they willing to negotiate. 

Be bold and take chances while aiming for the ideal solution. “Don’t be afraid to take risks and know your facts.” In terms of job security, focus on building your skills and demonstrating them in your jobs to be greater in demand. 

Cindy Stradling – Founder Athena Training & Consulting Inc

❖ Be prepared to walk away if you don’t reach a good deal 

Cindy is a successful entrepreneur and sales professional with over 25 years of experience. She’s passionate about creating a positive impact through training, coaching, and connecting individuals and organizations. Her passion for sales started when she worked at a store dealing with customers and building negotiation skills.

Today, she teaches sales training on dealing with clients and partners. Her role between clients and trainers require a lot of negotiation and focus on the training needs of the company. All while ensuring that it’s within the budget without compromising the quality of services provided by the trainers. Cindy often needs to think outside the box to look for alternative solutions. 

Her main advice when it comes to negotiation is while all points are unequal, the most crucial skill is to listen. Cindy refers to the Roger Fisher “Getting to Yes” book, which focuses on your BATNA – the “best alternative to your negotiated agreement.” The key here is to listen to understand the interests of both sides. Be self-aware enough and ready to walk away if you do not reach a good deal. Ultimately, think of the value you bring to the company and build your negotiation skills based on that. 

Deen Ajasa – HR Director Ontario Public Service

❖ Know what you want and do your research 

Deen brings over 20 years of extensive experience in human resources and employment services. He provides practical advice on negotiation from an HR leader’s perspective. His advice for professionals on dealing with rejection is to know the outcome of what you want. 

Before negotiating for an increased salary, do your research. Figure out “On average, what do companies of the same size pay their employees in the position that I want?”  If you have more value to offer, you can negotiate by stating, “Thank you. I can do XYZ. I’d like my compensation to be around the range of ..” 

Always be mindful of your environment and focus on your interests and goals. While having a job as your backup will benefit you even as you deal with rejection, if one door closes, another will open. But there will always be a chance to learn. Moreover, take the opportunity first and then continue to search and move forward for better opportunities in the future. 

What’s your biggest challenge regarding negotiation in your professional life? Here’s how you can be equipped with the right approach and confidence to become an effective negotiator and achieve the desired outcome in the workplace. 

2019-10-25T02:30:17+00:00

About the Author:

Tina Chow is a visionary changemaker, avid traveler, and passionate writer. She empowers leadership, personal growth, and career development through her creative content. Follow her blog for more of her work.

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