In my mind, a successful negotiation is not where one side has pulverized the other. You don’t “win” a negotiation; you get the best possible outcome for your clients while doing the least harm. No one should leave a negotiation angry. After all, Negotiation is an art, not a science. When it comes to negotiating on behalf of my clients, I keep the following in mind:
- Set the stage: I like a location that’s quiet, neutral, pleasant, and away from distractions and confusion. Itʼs best if everyone turns off their devices, and refrains from calls or texts during negotiations.
- Be prepared: I never enter without my homework. I verify any outstanding facts before the negotiation begins. (Later fact-finding can cause a negotiation to bog down!)
- Present a united front: I represent clients and have been hired to act on their wishes. At times I may not agree with their position, but I never share that with the other side. If I feel a clientʼs position is less than optimal, I only discuss it with them in private
- Leave attitudes at the door: Itʼs very simple… treat everyone in the negotiation with respect, regardless of personal opinions. If anyone disagrees, disagree with the idea, not the person.
- Watch non-verbal cues and body language: (Sorry, but I canʼt reveal all of my secrets here… suffice it to say I take it all in!)
- Hold something in reserve: I discuss concessions with my clients before hand and only offer these concessions when we absolutely need to concede something.
- I don’t harp about points that don’t matter to my clients: Negotiations should never choke over a minor point. I like to get agreement on major points such as price and terms and put lesser items aside to return to later.
- Never volunteer too much information: Knowledge is power in a negotiation. Telling the other side any information, however insignificant seeming, could weaken my clientsʼ position. On the other hand, I learn as much about the other side as I can.