5 Tactics to Keep Your Nerves at Bay During Important Negotiations

Negotiating is an art, and one that many people aren’t naturally skilled at doing. For some, even the thought of negotiating makes them anxious. These nerves can intensify if the negotiation involves something really important such as a huge business deal, a salary raise, or winning over that big client. It is important to remember, however, that your perception of the negotiation can have a huge impact on the outcome. If you walk into a negotiation with fear and nerves written all over your face, your counterpart will notice and seize the opportunity to control the negotiation. For this reason, it is important to learn some tips and tricks for staying calm and keeping your nerves at bay during a negotiation. With the right help, you can go from being terrified of negotiating to loving it.

Do Your Homework

The most important thing you should do before any negotiation is adequately research the person or company. Entering into a negotiation blindly will only intensify your nerves. The more you know about the subject and the person you are negotiating with, the more prepared you will be to reach an agreement that is suitable for both parties. For example, if you are negotiating salary, do your homework and find out what similar positions are going for and use that as leverage during your negotiation. If you are negotiating with a client for a product or service, be aware of what similar products and services cost and what sets yours apart from the rest. Knowledge is power and the more you know, the more credible you will appear.

Clearly Define Your Goals

Prior to the negotiation, jot down your goals and know exactly what you want to get out of the negotiation. At the same time, determine your walk-away point. This will keep you from making rash decisions under pressure. If you are aware of your goals and walk-away point right from the start, you won’t be as nervous about speaking up during the negotiation.

Listen Attentively

Active listening is one of the most important tactics for successful negotiation. When you listen intently, you are able to gather more information about the needs, concerns, and feelings of the other person. This can help you to steer the negotiation in the right direction. Furthermore, when you listen and take a sincere interest in the other person’s needs, this creates a more positive negotiating environment and reduces the chances that things will get heated.

Take a Break if Needed

If the discussions begin heading in the wrong direction or you begin to feel yourself getting anxious, it’s perfectly acceptable to recommend picking up the conversation on another day. This gives everyone an opportunity to take a step back, relax, and think.


One of the best ways to calm your nerves is to practice what you are going to say. Run through several different scenarios and how you will react to each situation. The more prepared you are on the day of the negotiation, the less likely you will be to feel anxious and nervous.