The Importance of Communication Skills in Negotiation: An Empirical Study

Fernando Manuel Pereira de Oliveira Carvalho
Universidade de Coimbra – Faculty of Economics

Filipe Azevedo Sobral
University of Coimbra – Faculty of Economics
16th Annual IACM Conference Melbourne, Australia


In an increasingly competitive, dynamic and ambiguous business environment, negotiation is critically important to the success and, ultimately, to the survival of companies. Consequently, managers need to possess and constantly improve their negotiating capabilities. Among the most important traits needed to negotiate successfully are several communication skills. The main objective of our study is to identify and analyze the importance that managers and executives of the 500 largest Portuguese companies attribute to some communication characteristics, necessaries to negotiate effectively and efficiently in uncertain and complex business environments. The 231 answers received demonstrate that the studied communication skills are regarded as requirements of the highest importance in a superior negotiator.

However, we find some discrepancies when we cross-analyze the results with demographic characteristics of those surveyed. For example, the most experienced executives and those who have formal negotiation training recognize a greater importance to the ability to listen, while women give a greater emphasis to non-verbal communication (body language, posture, etc.). In addition, the negotiating styles (collaborative vs. competitive) and the ethical behavior in negotiation of those surveyed seem to cause significantly statistical differences concerning the importance they attribute to some of the referred communication traits.

The Importance of Communication Skills in Negotiation- An Empirical Study

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