I remember my first ever manager; I bet we all do! He had a certain turn of phrase most of which is unrepeatable here.

However, he did have a certain motivational style. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Though one of his stock phrases was; “Nicky, this is non-negotiable.”

More often than not it WAS negotiable, as I was able to prove on many occasions.

So why am I telling you this? Well, he came to mind the other week when one of the 750k delegates asked a question about influence versus negotiation.

By the way these two skills can be used as a high billing independent recruiter, a recruitment business owner or as a recruitment manager that has to be able to influence successfully and negotiate successfully with a team of recruiters.

You will be using them both at some level; though most people can become more skilful and gain better results.

Negotiation and influence are two quite different techniques for your; “recruiters toolbox”. Let me clarify how they work and why it is important to be skilful at both.

As human beings we influence and negotiate every day even though we don’t often give it that label. This is especially true when we work in a ‘relationship’ business like recruitment. For example:

  • Running for the tube or plane (I do this a lot!) requires constant negotiation with other moving bodies – reading body language and adapting.
  • Agreeing an activity plan with your recruitment director may be a negotiation, finding common ground and considering the desired outcomes.
  • Convincing the other parties to accept your plan might require influence.
  • Having a discussion about a fee structure with a client requires both influence and negotiation.

Often there is confusion about the difference between these two skills; however any easy way to think about them both is to have a clear definition.



This is about the ability to have an effect on the development or behaviour of someone or something.



This is the discussion aimed at reaching an agreement between the people involved. Note discussion not railroading.

With me so far? OK. In order to negotiate you need to be able to influence. Remember though that not all influencing involves negotiating. Sometimes ‘things’; for example, set criteria are in place.

This might be; codes of practice, company procedures, and your own values. This means there is no room for negotiation.

The question is; how do you know when to influence and when to negotiate. Here is an easy way to make this work for you.

When you are thinking about what you want to achieve-your outcome-and how you will achieve it-the process; follow this simple rule;

  • When one of the elements is fixed – influence
  • When one of the elements is flexible or unknown – negotiate


Going back to our 750k delegate’s question about negotiate versus influence. I gave her the exact process to use. To give you the context this was the scenario.

For this example let’s call her Helen. The fixed element was a preferred supplier process.

Helen wasn’t on it so this is where she was able to use the influencing skills we teach; happy days.

She then needed to negotiate her percentage; which wasn’t fixed.

She was able to go through the negotiation process using some specific influencing techniques that made her client appreciate the value Helen would be able to add.

By getting things the right way round she got a positive result. That was a double positive.

She gained a preferred supplier status and was able to negotiate a 25% fee which was significantly more than she expected.

Get these two skills into context and your results can change literally overnight.


Warmest regards,




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