Become a Better Negotiator

In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.Chester L. Karrass

You Are Constantly in the Process of Negotiating

As we interact with family, friends, colleagues, customers and strangers, we often come across a myriad of conflicting and varied opinions, wants, needs and goals that everyone desires to satisfy on their own terms. These variations will persistently lead to disappointment if we are incapable of standing our ground and effectively negotiating an outcome that will satisfy our personal needs and objectives.

Today’s discussion will focus on the process of effective negotiation tactics that are designed to assist you to better position yourself to achieve the outcomes you desire to attain while interacting with other people.

We will specifically outline several guidelines that will set you on course towards becoming a more effective negotiator. In addition to this we will break down the fundamental things you must be focusing on before you physically step into a negotiation situation, and conclude our discussion by providing you with several negotiation techniques, strategies, tools and guidelines you can use to help you gain the upper hand throughout the negotiation process.


How to Become a Better Negotiator

Within this section we will discuss several guidelines that will set you on course to becoming a more effective and proficient negotiator.

The Negotiator’s Mindset

The mindset you bring into each and every negotiation is just as important as the techniques, tactics and tools you use throughout the negotiation process. For this reason we will break down the essential mindset that is required for effective negotiation. Later we will analyze the strategies and tools that will support you on your way towards reaching a win/win agreement.

A Negotiator’s Beliefs

An effective negotiator has a powerful set of underlying beliefs and convictions that help determine the decisions they will make throughout the negotiation process.

The following three beliefs create the backbone for effective decision-making. By taking time each day to ingrain them into your habitual patterns of behavior, will give you a superior advantage as you progress through each negotiation scenario.

Everything is negotiable.

No negotiation is ever final.

Preparation is the key to success.

Flexible

An effective negotiator is flexible in their approach throughout the negotiation process. They firmly understand that they must bend with the winds of change — adapting to their opponent’s tendencies, tactical maneuvers, and the information presented — in order to attain a favorable outcome.

Patient

An effective negotiator is patient at all times throughout the negotiation process. They thoroughly understand that negotiations must never be rushed or hurried, otherwise mistakes and oversights can be made which could stall the negotiation process even further or result in an unfavorable outcome for all parties concerned.

Resilient under Pressure

An effective negotiator firmly understands that negotiation requires a resilient attitude particularly under pressure. They realize that their opponent will often attempt every trick in the book to try and sway the negotiations in their favor. Yet, they stand firm and persist no matter how unfavorably the negotiation may seem to be unfolding. This resilience eventually helps them to progressively break down seemingly insurmountable obstacles, thereby moving them forward towards a fair and satisfactory arrangement.

Indifferent to Outcomes

An effective negotiator is fully aware that they must not attach themselves to a specific outcome. They realize that when they are attached to an outcome that they desire to achieve, that the more likely they are to become emotionally involved, which could lead to ineffective and hurried decisions that could sabotage the negotiation process.

Emotionally Proactive

An effective negotiator remains in full control of their emotional responses at all times throughout the negotiation process. They understand that one emotional slip could put them at a disadvantage and may thusly ruin their chances of reaching a favorable outcome. As a result they stay emotionally detached from the negotiation process.

Effective negotiators only think logically about their circumstances in order to reach an effective agreement that satisfies all parties involved.

Essential Negotiation Skills

To become a more effective negotiator it helps to develop a set of skills that will provide you with a solid foundation of understanding and flexibility to move you through the negotiation process more successfully.

The following list presents some of these critical skills that you must develop if you seek to become a more proficient negotiator:

Communication Skills

Communication is the ability to speak, listen, persuade, write and create rapport with your opponent. It is the fundamental and critical skills that we use to one extent or another on a daily basis while interacting with other people.

On one level or another all of us have a deep understanding and insight into these abilities. However, most of us simply don’t consciously use them to great effect throughout the negotiation process.

Listening Ability

When another person is talking we often hear what they are saying, however, it is rare to find a person who really listens and understands at a deep level what the other person is going through.

When it comes to effective negotiation, you must teach yourself to hear the words that the other person is speaking, while at the same time listening to the underlying patterns of their spoken language, their hidden meaning, and the needs that this person is trying to express through their words and phrasing.

Only in this way will you truly grasp a thorough and comprehensive insight into the complexities of this person’s mind and thought patterns.

Speaking Skills

When it comes to getting our message across to another person, it is important that we communicate and express ourselves clearly and concisely.

We must be very careful that the meaning of our words does not get misinterpreted by the other person, otherwise the message we are trying to get across will simply go missing. This is why it is so very important to pronounce each word clearly with the correct emotional undertones that we are attempting to get across to our opponent throughout the negotiation process.

Rapport Creation

Creating rapport between you an your opponent throughout the negotiation process involves a combination of listening and speaking skills that are intermingled with body language and the subtle conscious use of mirroring and matching techniques that reflect your opponent’s traits, values, beliefs and habitual patterns of behavior.

Writing Ability

Your ability to be able to write effectively subconsciously determines how intelligently others perceive you at any one moment in time. This is critical when it comes to effective negotiation, and helps you build the respect of your opponent.

Persuasive Ability

Your ability to persuade another person to your way of thinking stems from all the above communication variables. Each one adorns you with a layer of influence that you can use to win your opponent’s heart throughout the negotiation process.

Ability to Think Critically

An effective negotiator must be able to think critically about their opponent’s arguments, opinions and the facts of the negotiation. Only in this way will they be able to see beyond the fog and pinpoint the real issues and opportunities hiding within the deeper layers of the negotiation.

Ability to Think Creatively

An effective negotiator must be able to think creatively about every aspect of the negotiation process in order to identify hidden opportunities, potential areas of agreement, and unquestioned scenarios that could result in the establishment of favorable outcomes for all parties concerned.

Suppression of Emotions and Non-Verbal Cues

An effective negotiator clearly understands that their emotions and body language will often reveal their true intentions, opinions and thoughts. As a result they are always consciously vigilant of their non-verbal body language and emotional tendencies.

Awareness of Deceptive Tactics & Body Language

An effective negotiator is clearly aware of the underlying meaning of body language and the variety of deceptive tactics that others use on a consistent basis in order to gain the upper-hand throughout the negotiation process.

Foresight

An effective negotiator has an uncanny ability to predict future outcomes and circumstances based on subtle clues that are revealed throughout the negotiation process.

Like a Grand-master chess champion, they are able to predict their opponent’s moves several steps ahead, and can therefore layout an effective plan of action that will assist them to attain a favorable outcome as the negotiations wind down.

Gaining an Advantage as a Negotiator

You will gain an advantage over your opponent as an effective negotiator by ensuring that you step into each negotiation session with superior knowledge and understanding of not only your side of the proposal, but also your opponent’s side.

Gain knowledge by collecting and collating the following information about the subject you will be negotiating:

  • Statistics and solid figures.
  • Facts that are supported by overwhelming evidence.
  • Precedents that support your stance and point-of-view.
  • An understanding of your opponent’s personality traits.

Each of the above will help to lay down a solid foundation that will give you a serious advantage before the negotiation process even begins. However, you must be thorough with your research and you must understanding your opponent’s personality traits and tendencies comprehensively.

The Eight Step Negotiation Process

The following eight steps present a comprehensive break down of the negotiation process.

It isn’t essential that you move through all steps in chronological order. Instead the list is there to simply guide and present you with an outline of how a typical negotiation process might progress moving towards a favorable outcome.

1. Prepare

While preparing for your negotiation you must first gain clarity on what it is that you would like to obtain from this negotiation session. You must also gather an understanding of your opponent’s needs, priorities, boundaries, goals and emotional tendencies..

2. Begin

Begin the 2nd phase of the negotiation process by stating your case to your opponent.

Paint a picture of your position by telling your opponent a story comprising of logical arguments tinged with emotional undertones. When everything is said and done you must state what it is you want as a result of the contextual situation. In other words, your opponent must know exactly what you would like to gain from this negotiation process.

Once your opponent has heard your case, it is now their turn to state their position on the situation.

While they are talking, gently, curiously and innocently probe for understanding by using the simple process of asking ever deeper questions that will help you determine your opponent’s legitimate wants.

You must come away from this stage of the negotiation process with a clear impression of what it is that your opponent wants, needs and hopes to gain from this negotiation.

When you come to an understanding of what drives your opponent, then you will have a greater array of ammunition to work with in order to persuade your opponent to your way of thinking.

3. Argue

The 3rd phase of the negotiation process is known as the argumentative period.

Throughout this phase you must first attempt to weaken your opponent’s position by pointing out holes within their argument, facts, stats and data. At the same time you must effectively show that you are indifferent to the potential outcomes of this negotiation, and are willing to walk away if a favorable agreement is not reached.

Throughout this phase you must strengthen your own personal-case by making logical arguments and providing strong evidence to support the claims you are making. Likewise, provide your opponent with high levels of benefit if they agree wholeheartedly to your terms.

Finally, you must also prepare yourself to deal with head-on attacks that your opponent will throw at you. Simply repel these attacks by pointing out that you are fully aware of what they are doing, and that you will not be taken advantage of.

4. Explore

The 4th phase of the negotiation process involves exploring possible options.

Here you must work on unraveling areas of similarity, agreement and difference that both of you presented within the 3rd phase of the negotiation process.

Your goal is to bring to mind possible solutions that could potentially satisfy all parties involved within the negotiation.

5. Signal

The 5th phase of the negotiation process must bring your arguments and explorations full circle.

You must signal to your opponent that you are ready to work together and reach an effective outcome that will satisfy all parties involved.

Do this by displaying a good open posture and body language, by communicating honestly about your willingness to negotiate a suitable outcome, and by talking of the possibilities that could arise once the negotiation has been finalized.

6. Package

The 6th phase of the negotiation process must identify potential agreeable trades that can be made by both parties in order to reach a favorable outcome for everyone concerned.

Here you would make conditional proposals to your opponent about specific aspects of the negotiation.

Packaging your proposals effectively will further assist you to gain greater leverage at this stage of the negotiation process.

7. Close

The 7th phase of the negotiation involves the process of closing the deal. Simply agree to the terms of the arrangement making sure that you have established a favorable outcome for yourself and all parties concerned.

8. Sustain

The final phase of the negotiation process involves standing by the promises you made to your opponent, and potentially re-negotiating a new agreement if circumstances change.

For a thorough and detailed analysis of this eight step negotiation process, it is highly recommended that you visit the Changing Minds Website.


To Do List: Before Your Negotiation

Within this section we will break down the fundamental things you should be focusing on before you physically step into a negotiation situation.

Thorough Preparation = Success

When it comes to effective negotiation tactics, there is nothing more important than thorough and meticulous preparation. Not only will you gain an upper-hand over your opponent with the additional knowledge you acquire, you will also build a reservoir of confidence that will propel you effortlessly from one stage of the negotiation to the next.

In short… Thorough Preparation = A Fruitful Negotiation

Questioning Your Opponent

Your very first step when preparing for a negotiation is to thoroughly question your opponent from all possible angles and perspectives.

The insights you gain here will help you to adjust your personal negotiation style to best fit your opponent’s psychological tendencies, strengths, weaknesses and objectives.

Opponent’s Personal Drivers

The first areas to analyze are your opponent’s personal drivers. These drivers are intricately connected to the MasterMind Matrix and determine your opponent’s psychological tendencies, motives and behaviors.

Emotional Tendencies

Emotional tendencies are habitual emotional reactions that your opponent unconsciously makes under certain and specific conditions as they interact with others and deal with the circumstances that arise throughout their day.

Your goal is to dissect these patterns of emotional behavior, determine how they are triggered, and develop a strategy on how you can effectively use this information to your advantage throughout the negotiation process.

Values and Beliefs

Values and beliefs determine how your opponent views the world and how they prioritize their life, decisions and actions.

Beliefs can unlock hidden fears, anxieties and concerns that you can use to your advantage throughout the negotiation process.

Your goal is to dissect these value and belief patterns, determine the influence they have over your opponent’s decision-making ability, and develop an appropriate strategy on how to effectively use this information to your advantage throughout the negotiation process.

Objectives and Goals

Everyone comes into a negotiation with specific and somewhat loose objectives, goals and outcomes that they would like to obtain.

Your job is to dissect what goals and objectives your opponent is going to bring into the negotiation, determine the importance and priority that these goals have over their decision-making ability, and develop a strategy on how to effectively use this information to your advantage throughout the negotiation process.

Finally, determining what goals both of you share will help develop rapport and will assist you to gain common ground as you work your way through the negotiation.

Time Frames

Your opponent will most likely come into the negotiation with a specific time frame that they would like to work with. If you are able to identify this time frame, and then determine the reasons behind these time constraints, then it will provide you with a significant advantage as you work your way through the negotiation process.

Personal Wants vs Needs

There is a distinct and clear difference between what your opponent wants and what they need or will settle for when the negotiation is finalized. Your goal is to determine the differences and develop an effective negotiation approach that will show your opponent that their wants are clearly not in your best interest, while on the other-hand, helping satisfy their needs can bring about a fruitful agreement for all parties concerned.

Ask yourself:

What do they want specifically from me?

  • A certain or specific action: Your opponent may want you to do something specific for them.
  • Material possessions: Your opponent may want possession of something that you have.
  • An agreement to do something: Your opponent may want you to agree to do something for them, or to convince you to change your mind or opinion about an issue or subject.
  • Your personal knowledge or experience: Your opponent may want access to personal knowledge or information you have or control.

Opponent’s Company Drivers

If your opponent is coming into the negotiation representing a company, institute or business, than it will be necessary to question the driving forces behind this corporate organization in a similar fashion as was discussed above.

Company Vision and Mission

A vision and mission statement helps give you an insight into the values, beliefs and principles that a company seeks to project through their sales, marketing and public relations channels. You can use these insights to gain the upper-hand throughout the negotiation process, which can be done in one of two ways.

First to point out inconsistencies in your opponent’s actions that clearly contradict the company’s vision or mission statement, and secondly to help you structure your arguments more effectively — aligning them with the main principles presented within these declarations.

Company Goals

A company’s goals and objectives present you with their long-term future outlook and the progressive steps that they will take in order to reach these outcomes.

You can use this knowledge to structure your argument in such a way that their long-term goals and objectives naturally align themselves to the goals and outcomes that you seek to attain from this particular negotiation.

Company Strategy

Every company has a marketing message and a corporate strategy that they work-into every interaction they have with the marketplace and their customers. Once you become familiar with this strategy, you will be better able to adapt your approach before sitting down at the negotiation table.

For instance, you would negotiate somewhat differently with a representative of a company with a conservative strategy, than with someone whose company is well known for their willingness to take risks.

Opponent’s Expectations

Finally, you must gather an understanding of your opponent’s expectations coming into the negotiation session. These expectations will determine their strategy, approach, and willingness to make concessions.

Ask yourself:

What are my opponent’s expectations coming into this negotiation?

Questioning Potential Outcomes and Variables

After a thorough examination of your opponent, your next step is to take some time to question the potential outcomes and variables of the negotiation.

Here are some things you must consider:

Consequences of Win/Loss Scenarios

By gaining an understanding of the potential consequences of winning or losing (for both yourself and your opponent) will help you to better plan your strategy for the negotiation. Moreover, this knowledge will allow you to make more effective decisions and prepare for possible obstacles, challenges or opportunities that could arise as the negotiation unfolds.

Possible Alternative Solutions

Next, you must expand your thinking outside-the-box, and look at possible solutions that you could propose if you are initially unable to reach a favorable agreement with your opponent.

Take time to think about the possible alternatives that you might be able to propose from your perspective, while at the same time looking at the potential solutions that your opponent may be willing to bring to the negotiating table.

At times your opponent may need a little guidance that will help them to see possibilities that they may not have been aware of.

You may like to ask yourself the following two questions:

What are the possible alternatives if we are unable to reach an agreement?

How much do these alternative solutions matter to me and to my opponent?

Potential Trades

Your potential trades are the negotiating chips you will use to sway your opponent towards a favorable outcome.

You must determine what it is that your opponent perceives as valuable that you could trade in order to spice up the negotiation.

This thing you are trading does not necessarily have to have value for you personally. As long as your opponent sees that it is valuable for them, then that is all that matters.

In order to show your opponent that what you are offering them is valuable, you must gain a deep understanding of their personal and company drivers that we discussed in the previous section. It is likewise important to gain an understanding of what your opponent could potentially trade in order to motivate you to agree to their terms.

By preparing these ideas in advance will help you to better control the flow of the negotiation process, and potentially reach a more favorable outcome.

Ask yourself the following two questions:

What is each party prepared to give away?

What of value can potentially be traded?

Determining Negotiating Power

Here you must determine who holds the influential power within the negotiation.

You can gather an understanding of these balancing scales by reflecting upon which party has control over critical resources, knowledge, status and skills.

Once you are consciously aware of the balance of power, you can better prepare your arguments in order to weaken your opponent’s power position while at the same time strengthening your own position within the negotiation process.

Ask yourself the following three questions to expand your thinking in this area:

Who holds the power within this negotiation?

Who controls the resources, knowledge, status and skills?

Who stands most to lose if an agreement is not reached?

Questioning Yourself

Once you have questioned your opponent and the potential outcomes and variables of the negotiation, you must now switch the spotlight on yourself and gain clarity about your personal motives, needs, and the objectives you would like to obtain from this negotiation.

Here are three important things you must consider:

Gain Clarity About Your Goals

Gather a clear and concise understanding of the goals and outcomes you would like to achieve as a result of this negotiation.

BEWARE… if you step into the negotiation process without knowing what it is you want, then you will walk away from the negotiation with an unfavorable outcome that will leave you feeling empty and guilt-ridden.

On the other hand, having clarity about what it is you would like to obtain from the negotiation will allow you to better plan and prepare an effective strategy that will move you towards a favorable outcome.

Ask yourself:

What is it that I want to gain from this negotiation?

How will I know when I have reached and achieved this goal?

What signs or variables must I keep a lookout for that will help guide me towards my objectives?

Gain Clarity About Your Motives

Determine what it is that is driving and motivating you towards the goals and objectives you have laid out for yourself.

Keep in mind that at times your motives may blind you from seeing the most important issues that you actually need in order to reach a favorable outcome. You must therefore filter out the garbage while staying true to your highest ideals, values and standards.

Asking yourself the following questions will provide you with some clarity:

What are my motives for wanting this particular outcome?

What are the underlying subconscious reasons I am wanting to achieve this goal?

Are these motives aligned with my highest ideals, values and standards?

Are these motives blinding me from seeing the bigger picture?

How can I realign my motives effectively in order to encapsulate the bigger picture I am now seeing?

Gain Clarity About Your Needs

Now you must gain clarity about the personal needs that you would like to satisfy as a result of this negotiation.

Keep in mind that your needs are very different to your wants. The first is something that is required unconditionally just like the body needs food and water to survive, while the second has a whole set of variables attached to it that are great to have, however they aren’t necessary when looking from the perspective of the bigger picture.

By thoroughly understanding your needs you will be better able to position yourself to more effectively target your goals throughout the negotiation process.

Mind Map Areas of Potential Agreement

When it comes to planning out your negotiation, there is probably no better tool than mind mapping.

Mind maps will help you to see the bigger picture and the interconnecting pieces of each and every variable of the negotiation. On top of this, mind maps will help you layout your plan of action in an orderly manner making sure that you cover all the necessary points that will assist you with obtaining a favorable outcome.

If however you are overwhelmed with the thought of mapping out all the variables of the negotiation process, then a good starting point is to simply mind map the potential areas of agreement and disagreement that could result from the negotiation. This mind map will help you to workaround potential obstacles and opportunities, while enabling you to gain a deeper understanding of your opponent.

Determine Ideal Location for Negotiation

Once you have gained clarity about your opponent’s drivers, the potential outcomes and variables of the negotiation, and your own goals, motives and needs; now you are ready to determine the location where the negotiation will take place.

The location you select must support your goals and objectives, while at the same time providing you with a psychological advantage.

Factors that you should consider when setting up an effective location for the negotiation are as follows:

  • Room setting
  • Temperature
  • Lighting
  • Ambiance
  • Decor including chairs and tables
  • Refreshments
  • Physical space
  • Time of meeting
  • Seat positioning

Setting Up the Seating Position

How you position your chair in relation to your opponent’s chair can effectively determine the outcome of the negotiation in many unexpected ways.

Your seat positioning could very well determine how your opponent perceives you and responds to your arguments, while at the same time limiting or expanding your ability to influence your opponent emotionally, verbally and/or physically. Here are some quick guidelines:

Side by Side Seating Position

When you are sitting side-by-side with your opponent this signifies a spirit of cooperation. From this position you have a full view of their body language, mannerisms, and you are better able to connect with them physically.

Angled Seating Position

When you are sitting on an angled position in relation to your opponent, this signifies and naturally stimulates conversation.

This is often the most ideal seating position to take up at the onset of your negotiation session.

As your discussion advances and moves forward you can progressively shift into the side-by-side sitting position to further enhance the feelings of cooperation between the two of you.

Opposite Seating Position

When you are sitting opposite your opponent this signifies confrontation. This is especially evident when there is a table or desk parting your interactions — creating a barrier that prevents physical contact and visibility of the lower parts of your opponent’s body.

This is significant, because the lower part of the body can often display subtle signals that will provide you with deep insights into your opponent’s patterns of thought and emotion.


To Do List: During Your Negotiation

Within this section we will discuss several techniques, strategies, tools and guidelines that you can use throughout the negotiation process.

What to DO During a Negotiation

What you do before your negotiation session goes hand-in-hand with the steps you must consciously take throughout your negotiations.

Below we discuss some fundamental principles that you must take time to learn, cultivate and apply into your negotiation rituals in order to become a more efficient and effective negotiator.

Keep in mind that this list is by no means complete. In fact it only represents a small portion of what is required. However, mastering this small portion will significantly strengthen your proficiency as an effective negotiator, and in many ways it will do more for you then if you were to learn a 100 different negotiation or persuasive tactics, which in itself can become a rather overwhelming and daunting experience.

Master the following principles first and foremost, and you will be well on your way towards becoming a very effective and clever negotiator.

Maintain an Optimal Resourceful State

Maintaining a resourceful state will allow you to think more effectively, clearly and creatively. It will also enable you to project a powerful and radiant energy that will be perceived by others as a display of confidence, which can easily turn into respect and admiration.

A resourceful state is created in three fundamental ways:

  • Emotionally: The emotions you project.
  • Physically: How you use your body.
  • Mentally: The thoughts that you allow to dwell in your mind and what you mentally focus on at any one moment in time.

Develop and Maintain Rapport with Opponent

Your next objective is to first develop and later maintain a strong rapport with your opponent. This is done in several ways involving the process of mirroring and matching.

Here are a few guidelines to get you started:

Mirror Your Opponent

Observe your opponent carefully taking notice of their facial gestures, body language, and the verbal language they persistently use. Particularly pay attention to words they use to express themselves.

Once you are aware of your opponent’s subtle tendencies and habitual patterns of behavior, begin slowly mirroring their facial gestures, body language and the words that they use to express their feelings and emotions (gradual progressive mirroring is the key here).

Slowly but surely as you persist with this method you will find that your opponent begins to feel more comfortable around you. This will thusly allow you to connect with them at a deeper and more profound level.

Match Beliefs, Values and Habits

Your opponent has a set of beliefs, values and habits that make up their personality and characteristics.

In order to connect with them at a deeper level, they must see that you are like them in at least a few subtle ways.

By consciously matching their beliefs and values will show your opponent that you stand by the same principles that they believe in. This will thusly help you to build a stronger and longer lasting relationship with your opponent.

Acknowledge Your Understanding

As your opponent talks, acknowledge your understanding of their point of view by nodding your head and making short verbal remarks.

Don’t mistaken this as an agreement but rather as a show of your understanding of their point-of-view, positioning, and argument. If they see that you are willingly considering their side of the story, then they will be more open and accepting of your side of the story.

Paraphrase What is Being Said

Take your acknowledgment and understanding to another level by paraphrasing what your opponent has spoken in your own words. This will show your opponent that you have clearly heard them and understand their point-of-view. It will also show them that you are paying attention and are seriously considering their argument. This will likewise gain you a great deal of respect, and help you to build closer bonds with the people you are negotiating with.

Life coaches are often very good at using this strategy.

Communicate Clearly

Building rapport with your opponent requires that you communicate clearly, succinctly and efficiently.

If your opponent cannot understand your point-of-view, then you will struggle to build a good solid relationship and will likewise hurt your chances of reaching a favorable outcome.

Think in Solution Oriented Terms

When we enter a negotiation it is very easy to get carried away with the problems and obstacles that negotiations bring to the forefront of our minds.

Sometimes these problems grow so large that it is difficult to see the opportunities and solutions that would help both of you reach a favorable outcome.

The answer to this lies in solution-oriented thinking.

The following presents you with just a few ideas that will enable and encourage you to think in solution-oriented ways:

Chunk Up

When you can’t see eye-to-eye with your opponent and you begin to feel that problems are getting in the way of your negotiations, decide immediately to chunk up seeking common global interests (the bigger picture) that you and your opponent share.

These interests will help you establish areas of common ground that you can agree upon and therefore work from in order to reach a favorable outcome.

Chunk Down

When you can’t see eye-to-eye with your opponent and you begin to feel that problems are getting in the way of your negotiations, decide immediately to chunk down seeking common agreement specifics that you and your opponent share.

You may not see the same solution, however there may very well be certain aspects of this solution that you both acknowledge and can agree upon. Simply identify these aspects and work on re-establishing rapport and finding common ground.

Find Shared Problems

When solutions seem to be too few and far between, then simply flip the switch and focus on common problems that both of you share.

From here you can both work together to identify possible solutions to these problems that will help all parties concerned reach a favorable outcome.

Sometimes it’s our common problems that bring forth the greatest insights and ideas.

Use Questions Not Statements

Building rapport with your opponent and seeking solution-oriented outcomes requires that you minimize making statements and rather focus on asking solution based questions that will expand your opponent’s thinking and reflective abilities.

By learning to ask more effective questions will also assist you to gather the information you need from your opponent to successfully swing the negotiation pendulum in your favor.

Reach Win/Win Agreements

There are a variety of opinions about when you should finalize and seal a negotiation. Some believe you should work for a win/loss scenario (you win and your opponent loses), while others stand by the claim that the only way to walk away from a negotiation is when both parties have achieved a favorable outcome.

The second option in most instances is your better long-term solution.

We are here to fight for what we want, yet at the same time we would be doing others an injustice if we were to make them feel regretful and remorseful after the negotiation has concluded.

You never know when you are going to need someone’s help or assistance in the future. Therefore a win/win scenario is always the best outcome for a vast majority of negotiations.

Prioritize Ideas and Suggestions

Throughout the negotiation process you must be continuously prioritizing a variety of variables, ideas, solutions, suggestions and proposals made by you and your opponent on paper or within your head. These will help you to think more clearly, which will likewise enhance your decision-making ability. It will also ensure that you don’t miss the bigger picture that is absolutely critical to the success of each negotiation.

Use Principles of Pain and Pleasure

The principles of pain and pleasure are persuasive negotiation tactics, that if used to their fullest potential, can and will checkmate your opponent.

Your opponent will psychologically make decisions based on experiencing the feelings of immediate pleasure in the moment, while at the same timethey will do whatever it takes to move away from the feelings of experiencing immediate pain.

You can effectively use this knowledge to your advantage by progressively showing your opponent that if they agree to your terms that it will bring them immediate pleasure, and if they don’t agree to your terms that it will bring them immediate and long-term pain. On the other hand, it is important to convince your opponent that agreeing to their terms will bring them immediate and long-term pain. Even though they may not initially see it that way, it is your responsibility as an effective negotiator to lead them down this path.

Make Logical Arguments

Intelligent people will not easily be convinced by the use of emotional persuasive tactics. However, if you present them with a logical argument that breaks down your point-of-view into facts, stats and data that they cannot disprove, then you will effectively win them over to your way of thinking.

Use a Plethora of Negotiation Tactics

If you are still not making much progress using all the above negotiation strategies we have discussed, then you can simply turn to an abundance of negotiation tactics that can be used to your advantage.

I will not be discussing these negotiation tactics within this article post, however I highly recommend that you visit the Changing Minds Website which presents you with 65 powerful negotiation specific tactics you can immediately implement.

Without going into too much detail, here is a simple list of some of my favorite tactics that I like to use throughout the negotiation process:

  • Proactively vary your emotions from “stunned” to “relaxed” depending on the context of the situation.
  • Simply walk away from the negotiation to signify your detached connection to the outcome.
  • Present your opponent with rock solid facts that they cannot argue against.
  • Delay the negotiation in order to build tension.
  • Paint a gloomy picture of an undesirable outcome.
  • Make the unimportant issues essential, then concede them at a later time with hesitation.
  • Create a plethora of alternate options and solutions.
  • Set the deadline for the negotiation. Do not allow your opponent to do this for you.
  • Allow 72 hours of solid thinking time before you agree to a negotiation.
  • Use silences effectively.
  • Negotiate using smaller chunks.

Future Pace Possible Scenarios Before Agreeing

Once you have more or less settled on a few potential options for a fair and favorable agreement, take some time to future-pace these outcomes in order to identify potential breakdowns, holes, weaknesses and drawbacks that may arise.

To do this, begin by asking yourself the following two questions:

If something could go wrong, what would?

How will I deal with this when it happens?

What NOT TO DO During a Negotiation

Negotiating a successful and favorable outcome very often rests upon not what you do during the negotiation, but rather upon what you refrain from doing.

The following list presents you with a set of simple yet very important guidelines of what not to do throughout the negotiation process:

Don’t Speak the Following Words

Words are a critical component of the communication process. Sometimes they are very important, that a few ill-thought-out words can spell your doom and break down the negotiation at a moment’s notice.

Here are a few words you should refrain from using throughout the negotiation process.

“If… Try… Hope… Should… Can’t… But…”

Each of these words has a negative or weak (in terms of self-esteem) connotation associated with it that may very well ruin your chances of attaining a favorable outcome.

Don’t Think Narrowly or in Absolutes

When we think narrowly in absolutes we see our opponent or the situation as being black or white, good or bad, right or wrong, clever or dumb, etc. We also limit our ability to think outside-the-box”.

We don’t necessarily have to have everything our way in order to walk away from the negotiation with a feeling of satisfaction. Sometimes we actually hurt the negotiation process by being unreasonably stubborn and unwilling to bend to the changing landscape of the negotiation.

It is not the most solid of trees that stands up to the brutal force of the winds, but rather the tree that is willing to bend and sway to the wind’s shifting directions.

This of course does not mean that the tree doesn’t stand it’s ground. On the contrary, it’s roots remain firmly entrenched into mother earth. However, because of it’s ability to sway with the forces of the winds, it is better able to deal with the changing weather patterns.

Don’t Accept Statements as Truth of Fact

No matter how much faith you have in your opponent, there is every chance that they will say and do things that will strengthen their position — while weakening yours — that may not be based on truth or fact.

As an effective negotiator you must be consciously vigilant to this possibility, and should therefore use effective questioning tactics to ensure that what your opponent is saying stands up to your critical thinking analysis.

Don’t Rush the Negotiation Process

Sometimes we rush negotiations so quickly that we simply do not have the time to identify potential opportunities for agreement that could benefit all parties involved within the negotiation process.

In such instances it is better to walk away from the negotiation, to gather your thoughts, and then step back into the negotiation at a later time with more clarity and ammunition that will help you attain a favorable outcome.

Don’t Miss the Bigger Picture

Negotiations can at times plateau into a discussion about ever expanding small irrelevant issues that simply don’t need to be resolved.

By getting lost in these insignificant details, we simply lose track of the bigger picture. What’s worse is that we simply don’t realize that by sorting out the bigger picture will efficiently resolve a whole plethora of smaller interconnected problems — effectively killing two birds with one stone.

Don’t Instigate Disagreement

No matter how much you like to argue and fight your personal point-of-view, the purpose of a negotiation is to reach a favorable resolution that is most ideal for all parties concerned.

It is simply not worth your time and effort to keep hitting your head against a brick wall if the wall is just going to stand its ground. Instead focus on building rapport with your opponent, on finding common ground, and on tackling shared problems that will lead to a satisfactory solution for all concerned.

Don’t Talk without Listening

When it comes to effective negotiations, there are times when we should be talking, and other times when we must listen and hear our opponent’s point-of-view.

Sometimes it can be so very easy for us to get caught up thinking about what we are going to say next while our opponent is stating their argument. This is a red flag and a suicide notice that will undoubtedly cause communication breakdowns and result in a failed outcome that doesn’t favor either party.

Don’t Corner Opponent

Finally, do you really want to back a lion into a corner? This is no doubt a very dangerous predicament.

Don’t ever back your opponent into a corner.

Even if you obtain your desired outcome using this tactic, your opponent may very well end up walking away from the negotiation with a feeling of emptiness. In such situations you may have lost more then you gained including trust, respect and a potential alliance that could bring you even greater rewards in the future.


Final Thoughts

Many inexperienced negotiators quickly jump to the conclusion that negotiation is nothing more than a process that requires a forceful and aggressive stance that subdues the other person into accepting their proposal or solution.

Negotiation is actually a delicate art that requires discipline, patience, and a deep seated understanding of yourself, your opponent and the subject and circumstances of your negotiation. It is in fact a gentle balancing act that must be carefully planned out and pieced together from the very beginning to allow both parties to walk away with a favorable win/win agreement.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have any further queries or questions, or would like to share your experiences about this topic, than please do so in the comments section below.


Time to Assimilate these Concepts

Negotiation Tactics

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