Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


Prepare to negotiate

Ever have to negotiate for something? Here are some tips to help you go in a bit more prepared:

  • It's not all about you - find out more about the person you're negotiating with
    • What are their interests?
    • How much power do they really have in the negotiation (i.e. are they the decision maker, a representative of the true decision maker)?
    • What can you find out about how they've conducted themselves in past negotiations of a similar nature?
    • Are they ruled by emotion or fact?
    • How important is this negotiation to them?
    • Talk with people who know them, and see if you can find a "coach" to help you understand their style.
  • Get clear on your boundaries
    • What do you want out of the negotiation?
    • What's the minimum you'll accept?
    • What is your list of deal-breaker points?
    • At what point will you walk away?
    • What "sacrifice" points can you add into your starting position to give yourself some room to move?
    • What would a "win-win" look like?

  • Practice makes perfect
    • Try to anticipate how various scenarios could play out if during the negotiation (a mindmap can help).
    • Rehearse your position, counter offers under various scenarios, etc.
      • Include supporting facts and data to help you defend your positions.
    • Don't forget to prepare for how you want to communicate a "walk away" if the deal doesn't work for you.
    • Create an outline to organize your thoughts, anchor your main points, and keep you grounded in the heat of negotiations.
  • Level the playing field
    • If you can't gain the "home field advantage" by holding the negotiations at your home or office, try to steer toward "neutral territory" for the meeting.

      • If you are meeting at the other person's office, push to hold the negotiations in a conference room rather than their office.
      • If you are invited to their home, try to have the meeting moved to a restaurant, coffee shop, or some other more neutral venue.
    • If you're uncomfortable with conflict, a phone conversation or written negotiation may be easier to handle than a face-to-face negotiation.
    • If you have trouble holding your own in negotiations, consider recruiting someone else to negotiate on your behalf.
  • Keep your cool
    • Try to stick to an objective position if you can - remaining calm and collected will be an advantage.

      • Practice and preparation make this easier.
    • Reserve the right to "sleep on it" if you need time to think things through. This is especially handy if you are an introvert that needs time to process.
      • But don't let things linger indefinitely - decide on a finite time to consider things, then make the go/no-go decision within that time frame.
    • In business negotiations, remember that "Business is business" and try not to let it turn into a lingering grudge if you don't "win" the negotiation.
      • This is easier if you make sure you don't go deeper than the "minimum" you established during your preparation; don't violate your "deal-breaker" points, and don't forget to walk away if the deal won't work for you.

This is by no means a complete list, and each negotiation situation is unique. However, these points should stimulate your thinking and help you enter negotiations feeling more prepared and with a better strategy so you can walk away with an outcome that's acceptable to you.

Any tips to add? These points are more applicable to business negotiations, since that's where I spend lots of time - how would your list be different for non-business negotiations?