101 Ways to be a Good Negotiator

1. To become a good negotiator, learn to “read” the other party’s needs

2. Bear in mind that it is almost impossible for a negotiator to do too much preparation

3. Start by visualizing possible gains, not losses

4. Practice negotiating to improve upon your skills

5. Be prepared to compromise when you negotiate

6. Determine your strategy according to the type of negotiation

7. Define an agent’s responsibilities very clearly

8. Clarify your priorities: be ready to concede less important points

9. Be flexible – it is a sign of strength, not of weakness

10. If you agree in haste, you may repent at leisure

11. Write down all your objectives, then put them in order of priority

12. Identify issue that are open to compromise and those that are not

13. Express each objective in a single sentence

14. Abandon any totally unrealistic objectives before you negotiate

15. Be sure to gather all key information relevant to a negotiation

16. Sit in as an observer on other people’s negotiations

17. Learn tactics from the biographies of famous negotiators

18. Talk to people who know the other party in the negotiations

19. Be aware that the opposition might have a hidden agenda

20. Keep testing your own assessment of the opposition against the way they behave during the negotiations

21. If possible, always consult with any members of a previous negotiating team

22. Research in advance who will be representing the opposition

23. Always keep your negotiating strategy simple and flexible

24. Hide short tempers and frustration when negotiating, and never walk out in a rage

25. Draw up a written schedule of times for briefings and rehearsing tactics

26. Wear clothes that you find comfortable but which are smart and fairly conservative

27. Practise being silent around a negotiating table

28. Try to set the agenda – it will influence the rest of the meeting

29. Arrive a little early for meetings so you will look efficient and relaxed

30. Write an agenda in simple language, and include timings for each of the issues under discussion

31. Do not run a negotiation longer than two hours without a break

32. Keep a clock on the wall so that everybody can see what time it is

33. Do not reveal all your tactics at once when negotiating

34. If needed, ensure that all parties have access to private phone lines

35. Take a laptop computer if you need to access company data

36. Make sure that the Leader can make eye contact with all the key players

37. Seat your Hard Liner away from your opponent’s Hard Liner

38. Position chairs at an equal distance from each other

39. Begin any negotiations with uncontroversial, general points

40. Stress the need for agreement from the outset

41. Listen to a person’s tone of voice as well as their words

42. Put forward a proposal with as little emotion as possible

43. Do not start speaking until you have something relevant to say

44. Pay close attention to the proposal of the other party

45. Use humour when appropriate, but do not try to be too clever

46. Look for any similarities in your negotiating positions

47. Wait for the other party to finish before responding

48. Always use stalling tactics subtly and sparingly, if at all

49. Indicate that every concession you make is a major loss to you

50. Ask for a break to consider any new proposals

51. If you are foiled by a successful ploy, think before you respond

52. Practise your response to a variety of tactics that are often used in negotiation

53. Adjourn when an unknown element is introduced into a negotiation

54. Engage only in arguments that are constructive

55. Call for an adjournment when a completely new issue is introduced

56. When you agree to talk “off the record”, always keep your word

57. Assign one of your team to detect signals given off by the opposition

58. Be alert. Key signals may last for only a second

59. Learn to trust your instincts about other people’s body language

60. Ask a lot of “how” questions to imply a willingness to compromise

61. Watch for changes in body language, and adjust your tactics accordingly

62. Summarize the assessment of your positions regularly

63. Use repetition and positive body language to stress your key points

64. Refer matters to a third party if you need an arbitrator to mediate

65. Never undermine the dignity of the opposing party

66. Press home your advantage when the opposition loses momentum

67. Avoid negotiating on major issues at the end of the day, when your energy levels are low

68. Continually test for weaknesses in the other party’s position

69. Offer the smallest concessions first – you may not need to go any further

70. Make steady eye contact to emphasize that each concession is a serious loss for you

71. Do not concede ground unless you receive something in return

72. Make concessions on a minor issue to lessen intransigence on a major one

73. Remind the other party of areas of agreement to help break a deadlock

74. Record fully all agreements finalized at a negotiation’s close

75. Read over any notes covering the early part of your negotiations

76. Discuss and define any words that might be ambiguous in a written format

77. Make sure you do not ignore issues in order to speed up negotiations

78. Be assertive but not aggressive when you are closing a deal

79. Make sure your opponent has full authority to close the deal

80. Look at the other party when making your final offer

81. If you are not satisfied with a deal, do not sign it

82. Emphasize the common ground you have found during a debate

83. Try to understand the other party’s hesitancy

84. Agree on a date to review concessions made to break a deadlock

85. Be polite but persistent. This will gain you respect

86. Avoid the temptation to respond with an “eye for an eye”

87. Do not insist on an apology when order has been restored

88. Contact the other party immediately after a walkout

89. Agree a date for future talks to limit damage

90. View the use of a third party as a positive step, not a failing

91. Think twice before using mediation – it is expensive

92. Ensure mediators act while the parties are still keen to proceed

93. Consider unconventional suggestions to resolve a deadlock

94. It is worth paying as much as you can afford for good arbitration

95. Ensure that you fully understand the process of arbitration

96. Choose an arbitrator that both sides can trust completely

97. If necessary, ask a third party to appoint an arbitrator for you

98. Agree an order in which the action agreed on should be fulfilled

99. Draw up a final schedule for implementing the action agreed on

100. Decide who needs regular updates on the progress of your agreement

101. Make a good last impression. It can be as important as the first one

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