PMI-ACP Tools and Techniques: Soft Skills Negotiation

PMI-ACP soft skills negotiation

[PMI-ACP® Exam Study Notes] Agile Soft Skills Negotiation is one of the ten Tools and Techniques for the PMI-ACP® exam. The “Tools and Techniques” accounts for a total of 50% of all the questions to be found on the exam paper. According to the PMI-ACP® exam content outline, Soft Skills Negotiation includes Emotional Intelligence, Collaboration, Adaptive Leadership, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, Servant Leadership.

PMI-ACP® Exam Importance: around 3-6 questions (~5% of all questions)

PMI-ACP® Tools and Techniques: Soft Skills Negotiation

The soft stuff is the hard stuff

  • Though Agile Manifesto emphases “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”, the majority of the PMI-ACP® study notes focus on processes and tools. That’s because the processes and tools are easier to describe. Soft skills are actually very important for Agile project success.
  • “People” is the single most important factor that affect the success or fail of a project.
  • Agile negotiation is considered as a healthy process of give and take
  • Soft skills are particularly important for Agile project owing to the emphasis of face-to-face communication and co-located teams
  • these skills are intended to be used in Agile coaching
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ / EI)
Self Others

Drive and motivation

Social Skills

Inspirational leadership
Developing others
Teamwork and collaboration


Emotional self-awareness
Accurate self-assessment

Social Awareness

Organizational awareness
Understanding the environment

    • The table above describes aspects of emotional intelligence EI
    • EI is the ability / skill to identify, assess, monitor and control or influence the emotions / feelings of oneself and others
    • The leader’s mood and behaviors drive the mood and behaviors of everyone else

    • Don’t let emotions take over but let emotions work for you
  • Collaboration
    • collaboration = working together through effective communication, making sure all members agree, resolve conflicts, create a win-win situation and move forward with a group consensus
    • Customer collaboration and team collaboration are important for Agile projects
  • Negotiation
    • “collaboration over contract negotiation”
    • communication with two or more parties to reach an agreement / resolve conflicts
    • Negotiation strategies
      • Distributive negotiation: adopt extreme positions initially and work to reach a deal through tactics on the assumption that value is limited
      • Integrative negotiation: work together to achieve something by creating more values for a win-win solution
  • Conflict Resolution
    • conflict is inevitable and is good for project success when controlled
    • Stages of Conflict – try not to escalate the conflict stage
      1. Problem to solve
      2. Disagreement – with self-protection
      3. Contest – taking sides (you-vs-me)
      4. Crusade – over-generalization in judgement
      5. World War – unresolvable
    • focusing on turning conflicts into a win-win situation, often need to make use of emotional intelligence and active listening
    • conflict resolution:
      • [x] Accommodation – identify points of agreements and play down disagreement
      • [x] Avoidance – ignore the conflict
      • [x] Compromise – both sides to give up something, a lose-lose situation
      • [x] Forcing – force one side to accept something, a win-lose situation
      • Confronting – open dialogue leading to problem resolution, a win-win situation
      • Collaboration – work together for mutually consented solution
  • Adaptive Leadership / Situational Leadership
    • the leader adapts how he/she leads based on the specific environment / situation in order to be most effectively, e.g.
      • the maturity stage of the team: forming, storming, norming, performing, adjourning, the leader would move from high directive, low supportive (forming), then low directive, high supportive (norming) and finally low directive, low supportive (performing)
    • focusing on value-added activities instead of blindly following processes
    • openness and transparency are highly valued to facilitate communication amidst changes
  • Servant Leadership
    • traditional leadership / management: command-and-control (Theory X – workers are lazy and need to be monitored closely)
    • servant leadership: leading by serving and makes sure needs of other team members are met [servant first, leader second] (Theory Y – team members are self-motivated) as development team is the one to accomplish the tasks and deliver values
    • an Agile servant leader needs to:
      • protect the team from outside distractions / interruptions
      • remove impediments to the team’s performance
      • communicate and re-communicate project vision – maintain a common vision to drive the team to perform
      • carry food and water – i.e. provide all the resources for the team to perform, including motivate the team, provide trainings

Summary: Soft Skills Negotiation

This PMI-ACP® Exam Study notes touches upon one of the many tools and techniques of the PMI-ACP® exam syllabus – Agile Soft Skills Negotiation. Soft Skills Negotiation includes Emotional Intelligence, Collaboration, Adaptive Leadership, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, Servant Leadership.


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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3 Responses

  1. Sairam says:

    Hi Edward, I really appreciate your efforts . This is an excellent site. Thanks a lot.

    Just a small correction in EI quadrants. Social Skills (top right) is influence.

  2. Fernando Penaloza says:

    Ey thanks, this is very helpful. Love your site