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Prepare ahead of time. This is the single most important thing that you can do to improve your chances of reaching a mutually beneficial outcome.

  • Know all the issues that will be discussed.
  • Consider what the other person’s goals for the negotiation might be.
  • Know what your goals are and where there is room for flexibility.
  • Know what you are and are NOT willing to do/pay/give up etc.

Ask non judgmental questions. Ask questions that will get the other person talking and explaining to you where he/she is coming from. For example:

  • Could you tell me more about that?
  • What gives you that impression?
  • Could you please clarify what that means to you?

Do not let your ego get the best of you.

  • Emotionally take a step back.
  • Do not escalate personal attacks.
  • Do not force a square peg into a round hole. If it feels like it is not working, take a break and re-evaluate the situation. When things are going well, alternatives will become readily apparent.

Be honest. 50% of skilled negotiators fail to uncover (and meet) the other parties interests. One reason they fail: The other party is bluffing.

  • Mean what you say, especially if you say “No”.
  • Do not “bluff” or posture.
  • Bluffing will prevent you and your business from getting what you truly want and need from the other party.

Know your interests. In other words, what is motivating you to negotiate?

  • Interests are always positive.
  • Determine what motivates you to negotiate. What would you like to gain?
  • Consider the other parties interests, motivating factors and what they hope to gain from you. Skilled negotiators spend 4 times more time considering the other party’s interests than do unskilled negotiators.

Be willing to make the first offer.

  • Plan to make an opening offer.
  • There are many advantages to making the first move.
  • It establishes your expectations for the negotiation.

Honor your agreements. Conversely, do not agree to anything that will hurt you and your business.

  • You lose credibility if you start backing away from an agreement after you agreed to it. The message that you send is that you cannot be trusted.
  • It is better to keep negotiating and looking for options than to agree to something that does not benefit you or your company.