Article: Lynne R. Christen


The Small Business Library

January 14, 2001

The Top 10 Keys to Successful Negotiation

Hardly a day passes that we are not involved in some type of negotiation. This negotiation may be as simple as attempting to convince a friend to see the movie we choose or as complicated as negotiating a percentage of a business offering or mediating a labor dispute. At any rate, effective negotiation is an art... one that requires preparation and practice in order to be successful. Consider these ten tips for preparing for negotiation and improve your odds for a win-win resolution.
  1. Know what you REALLY want.
    Many people enter negotiation only to find they did not have a clear desired outcome defined in their own mind. Write down your desired outcome as concisely as possible and use this outcome as the center point of your preparation.

  2. Know your opposition.
    Learn as much as possible about who you are negotiating with, what they want, their strengths and weaknesses, and their likes and dislikes.

  3. Consider the impact of timing and method of negotiation.
    Whenever possible, negotiate face to face. It is easier to say NO over the telephone and in writing. Initiate the negotiation process so that you have the advantage of preparation and timing.

  4. Prepare your presentation... point by point.
    Outline your presentation carefully. Place emphasis on benefits to the other party.

  5. Anticipate reactions, objections and responses.
    If possible, brainstorm with others who have had similar negotiations to get a jump on what to expect. For each objection or reaction, list positive responses, alternatives and examples that counteract the negatives.

  6. Structure your presentation to ensure agreement on one or two points at the beginning of the negotiation.
    For example, "I think we can agree right away that we have a problem and that we both/all want to resolve it." Initial agreement on minor issues or points early on in the negotiation process sets a positive atmosphere for agreement in later, more significant stages.

  7. Determine paybacks and consequences for each party in the negotiation.
    A clear understanding of paybacks and consequences makes it easier to determine when and how to make concessions and when and how to stick to your requirements and requests.

  8. Prepare options rather than ultimatums.
    An ultimatum should be used only as a last resort when you are sure you can back it up and the other party knows you can back it up. Even then, in virtually every negotiation there are options and alternatives that reduce defensiveness and lead to positive resolution for all parties.

  9. Get comfortable with silence.
    Many negotiators feel compelled to jump in with arguments and comments each time there is a pause in the interaction. Practice holding back on comments and responses. Silence can be a very powerful negotiation tool.

  10. Close all negotiations by clearly outlining agreement.
    When agreement or conclusions have been reached and you are ready to end your negotiation, review the agreement that has been reached. Then, end your negotiation on a positive note... commending those involved and emphasizing the progress made.

Submitted by Lynne R. Christen, Certified Total Quality Management Facilitator, who can be reached at lyncoach@gnt.net.

Aloha Spirit will abound at Coaching 2001, a Worldwide Coach Training Conference, being held June 27-30, 2001 on Kona, the Big Island in the Hawaiian Islands. Take a cyber-tour of the resort at http://www.orchidmaunalani.com and learn more about the conference at coaching2001.com