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Ten Rules of Negotiation

Everybody gets involved in a negotiation process at some point in time. Whether its a discussion about bedtime with our children, with a salesperson on the price of a car or contract negotiations in the business world … the principles are really the same.

The following ten points are a synopsis of a presentation I attended a number of years ago at Queens University.

1.Be Prepared. Seems obvious, but the suggestion is to really get inside the head of the other side and play out all potential scenarios. In many ways the preparation is like a chess game … what might my opponent do, and what will the implications be? The better the preparation is directly related to the level of success.
2.Diagnose the Fundamentals of the Negotiation.  If both sides are negotiating in a win-win approach, that’s OK. If you are negotiating from that philosophy and the other side is not … then you have a problem. A win-lose negotiation strategy will work just fine if both sides adopt that approach … each starting at an extreme position and edging in to a solution, that in the end should be a win-win.
3.Work the BATNA(Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement).  You should know your own limits before you start, and try to understand their limits too. Then try to trade off to get the best position for your side. If I “give” on this, will you do that … easier to do this when you know each other’s BATNA for all components of a negotiation.
4.Be Willing to WalkToo often we are not willing to do this!
5.The Master Paradox.  The world is not black and white … truth and trust are sometimes relative. In a negotiation, how “truthful” should you be … and how “trusting” that the other side is being truthful?
6.Remember the Intangibles!  Sometimes there are other factors at play … could be an ego, a need to win, a perceived need to hurt the protagonist or any other underlying issue.
7.Actively Manage Coalitions.  Who else could support either side? What other environmental issues are there … and how could they come into play?
8.Protect Your ReputationWhen the negotiation is over you may still need to work with this person!
9.Rationality and Fairness are Relative.  What seems fair to one side might be perceived as grossly unfair to the other side.
10.Continue to Learn from Experience.  The lessons you learn from today’s negotiation can help you for future negotiations.

Some excellent pointers for everyone involved in any kind of negotiation … which of course is everyone!

One final point … try to keep emotions out of a negotiation, it should be about facts!