Everything's negotiable!

... how to negotiate successfully

Negotiation is a two-way communication process undertaken between parties with differing needs and ideas. Negotiations may take place with a buyer, seller, customer, supplier, boss, colleague, employee, spouse, friend or any other person with whom you interact. Although the individual facts and complexities of negotiations vary, there are basically seven subjects that negotiations cover; delivery; price; quality; resources; terms; training and service


Although most people would agree that win-win negotiation is preferable, negotiations are all too often conducted with an 'I win, you lose' approach. Such negotiations invariably result in the loser striving to get even, leading to dysfunctional behaviour in the future! A successful negotiator will utilise a few strong arguments. If too many arguments are put forward the strong points tend to be diluted by the weak. You can avoid this outcome by preparing in advance.


Planning prior to the start of the negotiations is crucial for both fact-finding and orientation. It is important to not only learn about the other party's character but also to consider their standpoint, possible arguments, their needs and the organisation that they work for. Collect information on each of these and stand in their shoes! You can then ensure that your requests are fair, as well as make decisions on what concessions may be given.


The opening of the negotiation process is far more important than mere introductions. Negotiations will proceed more smoothly if both parties take a little time to get to know one another, setting the scene and atmosphere for the discussions and agreements to follow. Use this as an opportunity to build rapport, overview the situation and outline the main issues and goals.

"Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest."

Shakespeare clearly knew a thing or two about negotiating! An important part of the negotiation process is both offering and seeking concessions. Be prepared to give an early, minor concession before you receive one … this will ensure the negotiation process progresses, even if the other party takes the opposite standpoint. Watch out if they quickly accept or offer a concession, especially on a point that has previously been a subject of serious disagreement. Intentional or unintentional misunderstanding may have occurred. Get a sense of where the major disagreements lie. Focusing on a single issue at a time allows minor disagreements to be put to one side until the major items have been covered. Be assertive when necessary. Assertiveness techniques are vital skills of the successful negotiator. However, always remember that even a successful negotiator sometimes has to walk away.

stand in their shoes

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