How Do I Become a Negotiator?

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  • Written By: Marco Sumayao
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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In order to become a negotiator, individuals will need to develop a keen understanding of their targeted subjects. This often entails studying psychology and inter-relational dynamics, as well as topics pertinent to the field in which individuals hope to work. A hostage negotiator, for example, should familiarize himself with criminal psychology and legal proceedings, while a debt negotiator should study finance and economics. Effective negotiation skills are only developed with experience, and so it is necessary to work an ample amount of time in the related field to become a negotiator.

A negotiator needs to know how to determine his subject's wants and needs, using them to his advantage when mediating agreements. To develop this skill, individuals who want to become a negotiator should study methods of observing and analyzing human speech and behavior. Several psychology classes, such as behavioral psychology and cognitive psychology, will help provide insight on these key elements of human interaction and allow for better analysis. In addition, negotiators should study the cognitive patterns of the individuals they deal with; a short sale negotiator should understand what encourages certain people to buy, while a business negotiator needs to have a strong grasp of business administration and ethics. Many of these fields will overlap in the course of a negotiation, making it extremely beneficial for someone who wants to become a negotiator to broaden his array of skills.


Studying in an academic environment will also hone an individual's observational skills. Just as every poker player subconsciously exhibits certain "tells" that signify whether or not he has a good hand, every person involved in a negotiation has certain behavioral patterns that implicitly express their emotions. Some people, for example, might fidget a little when they consider a change in stance; skilled negotiators should be able to pick this up and use it to their advantage. This principle works both ways, however, and someone who wants to become a negotiator should learn to conceal his own tells so as not to give his subject any advantage during discussions.

It is usually not enough for negotiators to be educated with psychological theories, however; every individual is unique and must be dealt with in a particular way. The only effective way to learn how to read different types of people is through constant exposure to them. To become a negotiator, individuals will need to work in the field in which they wish to practice negotiation and involve themselves in as many discussions as they can. It can take years to develop the skills to become an excellent negotiator, although some talented individuals might develop faster than others.



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