Stephen Boyle talks career, mistakes and the importance of negotiation

Stephen Boyle is a negotiation trainer and lecturer at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School's MBA programmes. He is also the Programme Director of UCD Michael Smurfit Executive Development: Winning Negotiation Strategies. In addition to his roles as a trainer and lecturer, he works as a consultant to clients engaged in challenging negotiations.

All this means he knows a thing or two about navigating the world of negotiation in the workplace. A bonafide expert, he has the toolkit that will help you develop and nurture your own negotiation skills too.

Which is why we are delighted to have Stephen join us for an insightful evening on Tuesday, May 7 at 6:30 pm for a Masterclass in Negotiation with Melaine Morris, IMAGE Contributing Editora at the Westbury Hotel. His Masterclass will be sure to provide you with advice, takeaways and key learnings that will assist you in a variety of circumstances.

Want to come along? Get your tickets here

In preparation for the event, we sat down with Stephen to learn a little more about his career to date and why negotiation skills are so important.


Tell us a little bit about your career story to date. 

I started out spending about 5 years in a variety of consulting roles, and then took a job with responsibility for change management and corporate communications in a US multinational, based out of their European headquarters in Dublin. Negotiation and influencing were significant parts of the role, and I discovered that what I had learned about these subjects in when doing a Masters in Business Studies at UCD Smurfit was highly applicable in practice. That got me interested in training people to be better negotiators, which I’ve now been doing for nearly 20 years.

What are the biggest lessons you have learned over the years in business?

Find what you enjoy most about your work, and look for ways to build your success around that. This requires not just knowing your strengths but developing them. And try to understand why you do what you do, or why you enjoy it. This gives you a sense of purpose and makes you better equipped to identify, create, and grasp opportunities.

Why are negotiating skills important?

In day-to-day life, we are surrounded by negotiation situations – both in work and personal life. Many people either avoid negotiating, concede too easily to avoid conflict, or compete in a very direct way that damages relationships. Having good negotiation skills enables people to solve problems big and small while simultaneously preserving and building better relationships.

What are your top tips for negotiating?


Firstly, know what you really want, and be ambitious when you set targets. Secondly, try to figure out what really matters to the other side. This isn’t always as simple as knowing what they are asking for – good negotiators spend time uncovering their counterparts’ underlying needs and priorities. Thirdly, manage the process of negotiation so that you develop a good working relationship in which both sides communicate well and can search for ways to solve their problems and meet their needs.

What is the biggest mistake people make when they are negotiating

There are quite a few common mistakes, but for most people, the biggest of all is assuming that negotiation has to be a competitive, even antagonistic, win-lose process. Having said that, I dislike the phrase “win-win” because it’s a cliché. Successful negotiation isn’t as simple as having a positive attitude or building good relationships; although these are helpful, they're not enough: negotiators need strong, reliable strategies.

How do you regather yourself after a setback in work?

One of my hobbies is running and I find this is the best way for me to keep a sense of perspective and maintain focus at work. The busier I am, the more important it is to make time for a run.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

Getting feedback from people who have been at a course or a workshop, learned what to do and how to do it, and solved a problem or improved their performance as a direct result.


What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Look after your health.

Get your tickets here

What to expect on the night:

Bubbles and delicious canapes from 6:30 pm

Networking with like-minded people


A Masterclass in Negotiation with key takeaways, tips, and tricks

A Q&A session with our speaker

The opportunity to win some fabulous prizes

A luxury gift bag for all guests to take home, including treats from Dylan Bradshaw, NIVEA, Glitz N' Pieces, Dr. Bronner's and Green & Blacks

The IMAGE Young Businesswomen's Forum also qualifies as two hours of structured, non-core CPD hours.

Buy your tickets here

In partnership with Cara Pharmacy.


In association with Mazda.

The image newsletter