Negotiation And Influencing Skills

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Let’s give you a situation to understand negotiation and influencing skills – you are the senior HR in a company hiring a new member for your tech team. The parameters given to you are – 3 years of experience, six days of on-site working, six months of probation, and a CTC range of 10 – 12 LPA. You have instructed that the probation period and CTC cannot be negotiated. You have found the perfect candidate, but they want a 3-month probation period with 15 LPA as CTC. What will you do?

In the above scenario, if you negotiate, you have to come to a middle ground, which is not possible because of the instructions given to you. So, will you let the candidate walk away? This is where influencing skills kick in – when you can’t negotiate, you influence.

In this article, we will understand what influencing skills mean, their relevance in the negotiation process and the principles of influence that can be incorporated into negotiation.

Understanding Negotiation, Influencing Skills

Dr. Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School, says, “99.9% of all of our decisions are influenced by others…but we don’t think that’s true.” In our daily transactions, negotiation skills and influencing skills play an extremely significant role. These skills help us identify our needs and wants, discuss them with others and convince others to provide them to us.

On one hand, negotiation involves discussions between parties on a conflict and presenting proposals to negotiate to resolve the conflict. It typically involves reaching a specific agreement or deal where parties have a clear understanding of what is being exchanged. On the other hand, influence is the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behaviour and opinions of another or others.

The stress is on the word “effect” because unless there is no visible effect, it cannot be said that the person is influenced. For example, when Karl Marx asked the labourers to unite to fight capitalism, the following effects of protests and strikes show his influencing skills.

Difference Between Negotiation And Influencing

From one perspective, negotiation and influencing have several similarities. Both require effective communication and showcasing empathy, and both aim at closing a deal. However, there are certain contrasting differences between the two, and they should not be used interchangeably. In this section, we will explore the difference between negotiation and influencing so that you don’t confuse one with the other.

1. Goal Orientation

The primary distinction lies in the objectives that you want to achieve through negotiation and influencing. Negotiation typically involves reaching a specific agreement or deal where parties involved have a clear understanding of what is being discussed or transacted. Its purpose is to find the Zone of Possible Agreement (ZOPA), i.e., a common ground where both parties are satisfied.

On the other hand, influence aims to bring change to attitudes, behaviours, or decisions without necessarily focusing on a concrete agreement. Influence occurs when an individual has an effect on the other party during the act of negotiation. The main purpose is not to find common ground but to convince the other party to change their stance.

2. Power Dynamics

Negotiation often involves a more explicit power dynamic, with parties attempting to maximise their gains within the confines of the agreement. This power in negotiation is often associated with factors such as financial resources, expertise, legal standing, or other tangible assets. For instance, when a big multinational company acquires a small, newly established company, the smaller company has little say in the negotiations because of explicit power dynamics.

However, in influence, the power dynamic is more implicit rather than explicit. An expert influencer may have more strength and better financial resources, but his influencing skills are not dependent on these strengths. These skills are more dependent on their personal qualities, relationships, and the ability to create emotional connections. For example, influencers like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. or Swami Vivekananda did not rely on their power dynamics but on their emotional intelligence to influence people.

3. Time Frame

Negotiation tends to have a more defined and structured time frame. There are often set deadlines or a sense of urgency associated with negotiations. This sense of urgency can arise from various factors, such as contractual obligations, financial considerations, or external market conditions. For example, in a business negotiation, there might be a deadline to finalise a deal before a product launch.

Influence, however, can be a more gradual and ongoing process, shaping opinions and decisions over an extended period. It relies on the cumulative effect of consistent messaging, building relationships, and demonstrating credibility over time. For instance, a leader within an organisation may employ influence strategies over an extended period to foster a culture of innovation.

4. Emotional Tone

In negotiation, parties may adopt a more formal and detached approach to maintain a professional demeanour. This approach is designed to keep the focus on the issues at hand and avoid personal sentiments that could potentially complicate or cloud the decision-making process. However, it does not mean that negotiation is always formal and that empathy or emotional intelligence does not play any role in negotiation. It is significant but not the prime focus.

Influence, by its nature, often relies more heavily on emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills. The influencer seeks to connect with others on a personal level, understanding their emotions, motivations, and concerns. This connection is often built on trust and empathy.

Importance Of Influencing Skills In Negotiation,

To begin with, negotiation is a process that requires influencing skills to ensure that the agreement you reach has all the terms that were non-negotiable to you in the first place. The simple rule of influencing says, “If an element is flexible, negotiate. If an element is fixed, influence.” In our above example, where you were the HR, elements such as past experience, working hours and benefits package are flexible and can be negotiated. On the contrary, elements like the CTC and probation period were fixed, and hence, you have to influence the candidate to accept those terms.

Two luminaries, Denis Duvauchelle and David Rock, propose two different ways in which influencing skills affect negotiations. Denis suggests how influencing brings hormonal controls over negotiations, while David focuses on certain cognitive methods. Let’s dig a little deeper.

1. Hormonal Controls

According to this theory, during a negotiation, we might feel a loss of control or face perceived threats. This feeling often triggers the release of cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone. This elevation of cortisol levels induces a negative emotional state, impairing our ability to assess the situation accurately.

Specific to negotiation, this hormonal reaction often leads individuals to default to one of four responses:

  • Fight – In negotiation, the “fight” response is a natural reaction triggered by stress or disagreement. Individuals exhibiting this response may feel the need to assert their position forcefully, often through assertive arguments and strong advocacy for their perspective.

  • Flight – The “flight” response in negotiation involves a tendency to avoid conflict by aligning with the prevailing consensus. Individuals exhibiting this behaviour may prioritise harmony over expressing their unique viewpoints or concerns.

  • Freeze – The “freeze” response manifests as disengagement, where individuals withdraw from the negotiation by choosing silence over active participation. This reaction often arises when someone is too overwhelmed by the conversation.

  • Appease – The “appease” response involves a willingness to concede or agree with the other party’s demands in an attempt to preserve harmony and avoid conflict.

2. Cognitive Methods

A notable neuroscientist, David Rock, propounded a new method to understand the importance of influencing skills in negotiation. He introduced SCARF, a neuroscience and brain-based model designed to help individuals understand the negative consequences of the stress hormone.

SCARF represents five key elements:

  • Status – It refers to the sense of importance that we assign to the other party based on their job position, title or influence they have over us.

  • Certainty – It is the need to have control over information and actions. It involves the desire for security and the need to control responses.

  • Autonomy – Autonomy centres around the ability to control your personal decisions and choices.

  • Relatedness – It includes the identification of features or characteristics that are common in you and the other party.

  • Fairness – Fairness means giving due consideration to elements of equality and ethics, ensuring a lack of favouritism or biases.

Importance of these theories

The essence of these theories is explaining how an individual responds to different situations when they face someone using influencing skills. By being mindful of these elements, negotiators can navigate discussions more effectively. You can rationally decide what responses you want to trigger and minimise the risk of triggering unwanted emotional responses. For example, you know that status and certainty increase the chances of influencing the other party. Thus, you can emphasise showcasing a powerful status and taking control over the negotiations.

6 Principles Of Influencing In Negotiation

The six principles of influencing, popularised by psychologist Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” provide insights into the psychological factors that influence human behaviour. By understanding and employing these principles in your negotiation process, you can become an effective negotiator. Let’s look at these six principles.


The principle of liking is based on the idea that people are more likely to be influenced by those they know, like, and find similar to themselves. Building rapport, finding common ground, and establishing a connection with others can enhance the likelihood of influence. This principle emphasises the importance of creating positive relationships to increase persuasiveness.

Social Proof

Social proof relies on the concept that people look to others for guidance on how to behave, especially in uncertain situations. When individuals observe others adopting a particular behaviour or making a specific choice, they are more likely to follow suit. Testimonials, endorsements, and showcasing the popularity of a product or idea are ways to leverage social proof in influencing behaviour.

Commitment And Consistency

This principle suggests that once individuals make a commitment or take a small initial step in a particular direction, they are more likely to remain consistent with that commitment. People prefer to align their actions with their stated beliefs or commitments. By obtaining small commitments initially, influencers can increase the likelihood of obtaining larger commitments later.


Reciprocity is the idea that individuals feel obligated to return favours, gifts, or acts of kindness. When someone does something positive for another person, there is a natural inclination to reciprocate. This principle highlights the power of giving and creating a sense of indebtedness, which can be used strategically to influence others.


Authority involves the tendency of individuals to follow the lead of those who are perceived as knowledgeable, credible, or experts in a particular domain. People are more likely to be influenced by those who possess expertise or authoritative credentials. Establishing and demonstrating authority can enhance persuasiveness.


Scarcity is based on the principle that people tend to desire things that are perceived as rare, limited, or difficult to obtain. In the modern world, you can call this the fear of missing out (FOMO), which can be a powerful motivator. By emphasising the scarcity of a product, opportunity, or idea, influencers can create a sense of urgency and increase the perceived value of what is being offered at the negotiation table.

Understanding and strategically applying these six principles of influencing can enhance one’s ability to persuade and shape the behaviour of others in various personal and professional contexts.


Advertisers, marketers, salespeople and businessmen all employ their influencing skills in negotiation to produce efficient results. Every negotiator wants to derive the best possible outcome for themselves or for their client on whose behalf they are negotiating. To derive the best results, you will need to master negotiation skills, persuasion skills and influencing skills. A successful negotiation is a culmination of several distinct skills and the work of one independent skill.

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By Ashish Agarwal

Ashish is a content writer at Kapable. A dynamic lawyer, experienced educator and content writer, he blends his legal expertise with a flair for storytelling. He has a passion for writing compelling articles and strives to simplify complex concepts, making them accessible to diverse audiences. He is dedicated to writing on contemporary topics and topics related to soft skills development. His articles showcase a deep understanding of the topic and reflect his commitment to fostering intellectual curiosity.

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