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Negotiation Techniques

June 25, 2014

Many things that most people do require negotiation skills – dealing with a spouse, kids, partners, employees, vendors or volunteers in a NFP organization.  Yet, many do not do anything to improve upon these skills.  Here are a few techniques to consider.

A starting point is to be clear on your objectives, what you are trying to accomplish and the deal-breakers for you.  You also need to prepare how you will approach getting a positive result.  This includes modeling what the other side will want, what they will say and their probable deal-breaker.  You also need to be prepared to breakaway and stop negotiating once it becomes clear you will not accomplish your objective.  You can stop completely or leave a door open.  A door left open by you with a weak alternative that you won’t accept is just a waste of time and a lack of respect for your adversary.  Better to break it off completely or suggest a relook at a later period.

In most negotiations there are five responses – for you and the person you are negotiating with:

  • Yes
  • Yes, but
  • No
  • No, but
  • What do you suggest?

Every “but” is a presentation of a position.  Be careful framing your words.

Learning to say “no” is probably the most difficult.  Accepting a “no” response is usually the most upsetting. But it could be the most direct way to end a time consuming process that might not lead anywhere, anyway.  Practice your no’s and your responses when told no.

Getting the other side to do most of the talking gives you an advantage since you haven’t revealed as much as they have.  Knowledge is currency.

During the negotiation, try to write down what the other side says.  It is important to be clear on what they want or are suggesting.  Writing also creates a slight delay giving you time to formulate a response – nothing you suggest in a negotiation should be quick.

If you are representing someone, you can have a “fall back” to say you will need to discuss a new development with them.  If you are the principal, you can’t do this, but you can have a “team of advisors” you will need to consult with.

Everything said, hinted, suggested or inferred counts and is an offering of your views.  If it doesn’t lock you into a position, it can still represent an issue or the starting point from which you might have to negotiate from or against.  Alternatively, it can tip off what is really important for you and put you at a bargaining disadvantage.

Many times, you might be willing to give up something not as important to you, but get something in return.  Trade, don’t give!

It is also important to leave yourself a way out if the negotiation doesn’t go the way you want without closing the door completely.  It also helps if you left your opponent a way to restart at a position more favorable to you.

Be a gracious loser… and an even more gracious winner.  Why not?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Nagler permalink
    June 25, 2014 5:21 pm


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