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Negotiation Tips

Before the negotiation confirm;

Your goal by defining your ideal outcome and just as importantly their ‘real’ goal

The time constraints on both parties and the reasons for the ‘deadlines’

Both your and their limitations on what can be offered or given away

Define and write down your opening position and gather all you can on theirs

Document your minimum acceptable solution and what you believe theirs to be

Your negative perceptions of the situation and what their negative perceptions may be

Then develop a strategy by;

Identifying objective standards by which rules of engagement can be set i.e. values & ethics, appraisals that may be accepted and by whom, legal practice etc

Neutralise negative perceptions or bias that hinder i.e. this customer is greedy, unionists are trouble makers or management is against the workers

List possible solutions for the other side and their repercussions for both parties

Define possible areas of agreement and the underlying mutual needs

Determine limitations impact, what they may realistically be able to accept, deadlines, the power of the negotiating team to make decisions, political situation

Try define their perspective on the negotiation i.e. what is their real problem and how do they view our position and attitude

List alternative actions that may provide some basis for continuation or a partial agreement or an, ‘if all else fails option’, (sometimes referred to as a lifeboat)

Practice by role-playing both sides of the negotiation to find weaknesses


During the Negotiation;

Outline issues objectively and gauge reaction to find areas of agreement or disagreement

Don’t interrupt listen and look carefully identify confidence and knowledge levels, fears and motivations

Be now and future focussed (don’t get into the last time we etc)

Ask the other party to define their current perspective on the issue

Do not accuse and do not be personal, try to create empathy for your position by explaining your stance with facts rather than giving your perspective on their attitude

Don’t go to your extreme position (if you don’t do this I will or will not do that), emphasize you are looking for a mutual solution

Encourage the parties to define a number of possible solutions emphasizing both party benefits to be gained

If a deadlock occurs focus on ways to keep the process moving, if the process stalls totally, try to resolve some less crucial issues to get the process re-started

Things that will help you mess up a negotiation;

A negative attitude, assuming a winner and loser outcome, communication difficulties, becoming emotional, fear of assertiveness, a self-righteous attitude, lack of knowledge of the process, seeing the others as adversaries, lack of knowledge of tactics, fearing you will lose, lack of confidence, lack of patience, fear of confrontation and of course the big one… lack of persistence

Things that will help you NOT mess up a negotiation;

Develop a win-win strategy and attitude, learn to listen (not just hear), practice emotional control, take an objective approach, develop patience and timing, don’t fight with your opponent, decide what you can afford to lose, what are your alternatives if minimums aren’t met (lifeboat), try to build a relationship before you start to negotiate, (it is hard to be committed to a win-win if opponent is a total stranger), find out common interests or goals so you feel comfortable in looking for a win-win

And if all of these tips are too hard at least...

Separate the people from the problem – stick to specifics and discuss only the facts of the situation, (personal attacks and attacking others beliefs and values will build a moral no win divide)

Look at interests REAL NEEDS, don’t argue over positions – e.g. don’t dwell on number of ‘nuclear inspectors’ as in the case some years ago that led to the failure between the US and USSR during their nuclear arms limitations negotiations, when each sides real need was mutual transparency

Create options for mutual gain – get all participants involved in an exercise to discover mutual needs and a range of possible solutions, this builds on the idea that you are allies trying to solve a mutual problem

Get the parties to use objective criteria – keep away from opinions and perceptions, i.e. find out real facts, precedents, industry averages, competitors conditions, true economies, factual business conditions, best practices




Copyright Orglearn - Richard Townsend 2008-2014