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Negotiation Tips

This article provides some tips for negotiating in an assertive way.

The tips may be helpful for you if you often find that having raised an issue for discussion, or having been called upon to discuss an issue, you then back down or compromise too much for fear of possible negative consequences from being assertive.

The tips aim to help you to prepare for effective negotiation, to help you get something out of the conversation or exchange of views that follows once you have expressed your needs and wishes to the other party.

15 Negotiation Tips – Preparing to get a Reasonable Deal

To prepare yourself before you enter into discussion where you want to achieve an agreement from another party to act differently or treat you differently, you may find it helpful to:

1. Identify for yourself what things you are prepared to compromise on and what things you are not willing to compromise on because they are too important to you.

2. In the light of your knowledge of the behaviour and personality of the person you are going to be in discussion/negotiation with, give some thought in advance to what they might ask for and how you might respond.

3. Be prepared to listen to what the other person has to say but also think about how you are going to ensure that you get an opportunity to put your point of view and feelings across – in some cases it may be helpful at the outset of the discussion for you to suggest to the other person that you agree to allow each other a few minutes each in turn to express your views without interruption.

4. Prepare for how you may try to move discussion forward once you have both expressed your views – for example, this might involve you summarising the differences and similarities in each of your views and then trying with the other person to explore (or ‘brainstorm’) what different possible solutions there might be and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each for both of you.

5. In respect of those aspects where you might compromise, think of possible suggestions that you might make to the other party about what you would like in return from them if you compromise on those aspects.

6. In respect of those aspects where you are not willing to compromise, be clear in your own mind about what the consequences might be if the other person still refuses to meet those ‘bottom-line’ requests and what you will then do.

7. In most cases you will be hoping that a productive compromise can be reached. However, if your bottom-line requests are not met, then be prepared to act in the way you decided beforehand (under 6. above). If you are not prepared to carry through this commitment then you may decide that actually what you considered to be a ‘non-negotiable’ or ‘bottom-line’ request is actually just a strong preference. It is best to be clear about this in your own mind beforehand if possible.

8. In the light of your relationship with the other party and your knowledge of them, give some thought in advance to what style of approach is most likely to encourage the other party to respond positively to your request – will it help for you to be encouraging and constructive and try to engage in a joint search for solutions or will it be more likely to be productive if you take a firm stance from the outset, indicating absolutely clearly what you want and what will be the consequences if your wishes are not met or at least are not met in full? The best style of approach may vary for different situations.

9. When, where and how do you want to approach the topic to give yourself the best chance of getting a friendly constructive or at least helpful response from the other party. In most cases if possible you may want to raise the subject at a time when both you and the other party can give full attention to the discussion without distractions and when you are not preoccupied with other matters or very tired or stressed.

10. Whilst you are looking for a good time to raise the topic, as indicated in 9. above, don’t put off the moment for ever! The perfect time will probably never happen. If you find yourself delaying too much, then select a specific time or occasion to raise the matter and keep to your commitment.

11. Recognise that the person you are going to be talking to may say some things that you are not anticipating. If you are worried about committing yourself to something that you later regret, then prepare a stock response for the unexpected which will allow you time to think further before you make a decision – e.g. something as simple as: “I need to think about that before I give you my answer”.

12. When you have considered all the above points, write down a summary of your conclusions and go through it before the meeting or discussion with the other party so that you are prepared.

13. At the meeting, if suggestions as to how to move forward are agreed, then go over them at the end to check that you are both clear about what they are and clarify any possible points of doubt. If you think that what is agreed may be disputed later, then record the main points in writing and ask the other party to confirm that they are in agreement with your record.

14. If you can’t resolve every issue, you may still agree to implement changes in respect of some issues and perhaps set a further date to talk further about any outstanding differences after you have both thought further about possible ideas for dealing with them.

15. If appropriate, decide how you both are going to keep track of whether the agreed actions have been implemented and what you would both regard as successful implementation – if appropriate set a provisional date for a further discussion to review progress and to discuss whether the agreement has worked or needs to be changed


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