Negotiation is a form of communication used by people to settle differences or resolve conflict in a way that benefits everyone involved. A negotiation can be as simple as bargaining for a raise in salary or as complex as working out a multinational trade agreement. Negotiation is important because unlike a competition or fight, it allows for collaboration between people so that they can build lasting relationships, create long-term solutions, and avoid future conflicts.
There are different approaches to thinking about negotiation in a structured way. Strategic negotiation seeks to guide complex negotiations by proactively preparing blueprints ahead of time that clearly establish the value created by an agreement and how it can be fairly divided between all of the parties involved. Another example is principled negotiation, which uses an interest-based approach to separate the people from the problem and focus on interests and not positions. This creates an environment where both sides are respected and outcomes are mutually beneficial.
In addition to these overarching approaches, negotiators rely on a variety of tools and skills to help resolve conflicts effectively. The mathematical modeling frameworks of game theory and the use of decision trees to map out different choices and outcomes provide useful ways to methodically identify and evaluate different paths forward in a negotiation. And strong cross-cultural communication skills are especially important to being able to find common ground when parties involved have vastly different backgrounds and viewpoints.
The negotiation skills of good judgment, unbiased listening, and clear, persuasive expression are an asset for a variety of careers. In the business world, negotiations are fundamental to coming to terms on financial transactions. Similarly, negotiation is central to the work of lawyers, who play a critical role in resolving both financial and legal disputes. Management roles in all industries, and particularly chief executive officers (CEO) and human resources managers (HR), also rely on negotiation skills to come to terms on salary with their teams and to settle other workplace disputes.
There are also careers that require being a full-time, professional negotiator. Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators facilitate negotiations between parties to resolve conflicts without resorting to lengthy and costly litigation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these highly specialized professionals generally have bachelor’s or master’s degree in business or law, along with relevant experience working in these fields.
Yes, Coursera offers a wide range of online courses and Specializations on topics related to negotiation, from introductory-level courses to advanced Specializations on mediation and conflict resolution. These courses are offered through top-ranked institutions and companies from around the world including Yale University, University of Michigan, and ESSEC Business School, so you don’t have to sacrifice the quality of your education to learn online.
Best of all, taking classes remotely lets you learn on a flexible schedule that can fit into your existing work or family life. And, although online courses and Specializations through Coursera offer the same materials and credits as on-campus alternatives, they are available at a significantly lower tuition cost.
The skills and experiences that would be ideal for you to have before starting to learn negotiation include exhibiting the ability to quickly analyze an issue, make your thoughts known to others without argument, and figuring out ways to identify how each side can feel good about an eventual decision. Good negotiating skills usually require listening intently, understanding people’s motives, and having good communication skills. All of these would be helpful to you to learn to become a good negotiator and find resolution between opposing parties in strategic discussions. When you are able to bring skills and experience to the table for learning negotiation, you might be able to advance your career forward.
The kind of people that are best suited for work that involves negotiation are those who are able to hold strong opinions, share certain beliefs, and convince others to accept some of those opinions and beliefs to resolve an issue or problem. This could include confident people, higher-educated people, or analytical types who can help others to see the big picture over all the details. For example, someone who might understand psychology, body language, speech patterns, and facial movements to determine if people are being truthful could be well suited for work that involves negotiation.
You might know if learning negotiation is right for you if you show aptitude in understanding people, learning about their motivations, having an ability to assess what’s good or bad in a negotiation, and how the eventual outcome needs to be carefully balanced between the opposing parties. After all, it’s a key asset to be able to manage the temperaments of people who both want something in a conflict. If you are able to assess situations quickly and gauge the temperature of a room when you walk into it, you might have the personality traits to work in negotiation.
This FAQ content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.