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by Randall CraigFiled in: Blog, Make It Happen Tipsheet, StrategyTagged as:

When you think about negotiations, what comes to mind: The pricing on that new proposal? Management vs Labor? Salary negotiations? Too often, negotiations are rife with conflict, winners and losers, and power-plays; it is no wonder that many people find them uncomfortable, and very often avoid them. (Or get taken advantage of in them.)

If you have found yourself dreading negotiations, consider this approach:

1) Share perspectives: Instead of meeting to discuss terms, look to understand the others’ goals, constraints, and preferences. Negotiating “terms” without understanding their priorities is like walking in the dark – often frustrating.

2) Identify boundaries: What is the lowest – or highest – you might be willing to go in each of the areas under discussion? If you’re not sure about your boundaries, consider the cost of alternatives. If you know your walk-away point (and stick to it) the resulting deal will never be a bad one, since it will always be better than the alternative.

3) Small greed succeeds: Successful negotiators know that when both sides are happy with the agreement, then the deal will stick. But if the deal is lopsided, the aggrieved party will always find ways to minimize their damage, either by reducing the quality of their obligations, adding nuisance charges, or even sabotaging the deal. Better to leave a bit more money on the table and have everyone happy to over-deliver.

An onerous negotiation often will result in a strained relationship, so why do it this way? A better approach to negotiation is to consider it a “discussion”. The beauty is that even if the other side doesn’t use this model, you can: Ask questions about the others goals/constraints/preferences, then share your own. You will both quickly know if a deal is possible or not.


The winner in a negotiation is often the side with the greatest power. The winner in a discussion gets what they need by helping the other party get what they need. Whether your next negotiation is with your prospect, client, supplier, manager, or family member, make it a discussion instead of a negotiation.

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