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The right style and tactics make it easier to effectively advocate for yourself, your patients, and your team and reach “win-win” agreements.

Fam Pract Manag. 2023;30(3):10-14

This content conforms to AAFP criteria for CME.

Author disclosure: no relevant financial relationships.

physician negotiation

Negotiation is an ever-present part of our lives, impacting physicians both personally and professionally. Often, when we think of negotiation in our professional lives, we imagine high-stakes situations like negotiating a salary with an employer or a business deal with a new partner or vendor. But it can take many other forms, such as negotiating with leadership to change a policy or process that affects patient care, to influence investment priorities to better support the primary care team, or to improve aspects of your employment contract (e.g., protected time for administrative work) so you can carry out your professional responsibilities more effectively.

Certain negotiation strategies can improve your odds of success, meaning the agreement not only meets your needs but leads to better outcomes for everyone involved. This article provides an overview of the five different negotiating styles, describes two tools that lay the groundwork for negotiation, and outlines five steps to reaching successful agreements.


  • Negotiation is often more fruitful if you know your own bargaining style and, if possible, the other party's bargaining style.

  • Keeping in mind your “best alternative to negotiated agreement,” or BATNA, helps you know when walking away from a negotiation is better than accepting a negotiated outcome.

  • For the best outcome, start by asking for more than you want and be prepared to make concessions as talks progress.

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