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Employability skills

Negotiation & influencing

What are negotiation and influencing skills?

Negotiation, influence and persuasion are all closely linked and are all aspects of interpersonal and communication skills. However, there are subtle differences which are defined below;


The ability to discuss an issue with one or more other people to determine ways to reach agreement and mutual satisfaction.

This usually relates to an issue or issues where both parties have an existing interest or opinion.


The ability to change others' attitudes, opinions or behaviour and can be direct or indirect.

This usually relates to an issue or issues that are not currently being addressed or considered.


The ability to deliberately influence others to change an attitude, opinion, or behaviour.

Persuasion differs from influence mainly in the intent; i.e. persuasion is direct and deliberate, whereas influence can also be indirect. For example, many of us are influenced in our choices, attitudes or opinions by peers or people we respect without them actively persuading us in that direction. 

If you would like to explore negotiation, influence and persuasion in more detail, there are some useful resources on the Mindtools website. 

Why do employers want them?

In the workplace there will frequently be conflicting demands on time, or differences of opinion or attitude for which these skills are key in trying to reach agreements where all parties are happy.  In certain job roles they will be more important than others, for example in any role where you might be responsible for client or customer relationships, or for managing others, the ability to influence and persuade people is key.

Examples of how negotiation and influencing skills can be developed or evidenced

  • Team sports.
  • Suggesting changes to a course representative.
  • Persuading others to support your idea in a group situation.
  • Negotiating sponsorship for an event or publication.
  • Convincing a colleague, manager or anyone else to take a course of action when they were initially reluctant to see your point of view.
  • Suggesting changes in systems, a course of action or ideas and convincing others to support this. This could be in a group setting at university, in the workplace or any other team situation.
  • Political canvassing.
  • Successful advertising of an event. 

Ebooks to help you develop these skills

Neg skills Great negotiating skills