A “Cheat Sheet” For The Art of Negotiation 1

By Chris Simmons

Negotiations come in all shapes, sizes, and intensities. While bargaining with a spy is very different from negotiating a home purchase or buying a car, many of the core tactics remain the same. Simple to master and easy to remember, these practices will help you get more out of any negotiation.

PREPARATION

  1. Understand that negotiations are rooted in emotional “wants,” not rational “needs.” For example, do you really “need” a 455 HP Corvette? Know what the other party truly wants. What is it that you need? How big is the gap between what you want and what you need?
  2. Identify the personal and cultural biases and quirks of the other party. Develop a plan to circumvent their biases or exploit weaknesses in their perceptions (for example, you may want to use a female negotiator in a male-dominated industry).
  3. Have an opening position, a “target” or ideal position, and a bottom line.
  4. In general, plan to address the easier issues first as a means of building momentum. The longer you negotiate, the harder it is for many people to walk away.
  5. Since most communication is nonverbal, one team member should focus on watching the behavioral cues of the other party.
  6. Remember, threats have no place in a negotiation, no matter how hotly contested.
  7. When possible, avoid allowing your decision-maker to get involved once the negotiations are underway. This maximizes your bargaining position and leverage by intentionally limiting your negotiator’s authority.
  8. Ideally, have a single spokesperson, but allow any team member to call a caucus, and caucus often.

“IN THE ROOM”

  1. Never be afraid to walk away from a negotiation – and ensure the other party knows you will if discussions sour.
  2. Operate from the perspective that everything is negotiable.
  3. Never accept their first offer.
  4. Nothing is free; every concession you offer is an exchange for something you want. Use “Yes, if…” in your discussions to reinforce the perception that the issue is not yet decided. Derail any outrageous offer by making your “if” so severe, that YOU decline the offer & counteroffer as unacceptable to both sides.
  5. Your initial offer should be at the upper limits of what is reasonable.
  6. Use sharply tapered concessions to gain momentum and show “good faith” effort. Make very small concessions as you near the end. Many individuals and groups follow a pattern known as the “Rule of Halves.” In this technique, each concession is roughly – but never precisely – half of the previous offer. If you are pushed below your target goal, intensify the theatrics by pushing hard for every point; seeking to split the difference; and offering no major concessions.
  7. Be patient.
  8. Always be on the lookout for creative concessions to offer.
  9. Be sensitive to any outside issue that seems to arise unexpectedly, as it could be a real issue.
  10. When the deal is almost done, ask for one more concession. This is known as a “nibble at the end.”
  11. Everything is conditional — until settled at the conclusion.
  12. When asked “is this your bottom line?,” answer with words to the effect “This is a fair offer/competitive offer/etc.”
  13. Ensure the other party feels satisfied with the outcome. Note: “Win-lose” negotiations are viable only in one-shot opportunities where no long-term relationship is sought (e.g., buying a car, house, etc).

 

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