The 22 Dos and Don’ts for Successful Negotiations



No matter what you need to negotiate, there are easy strategies to get anything you want. But you must first remember it’s important to reach a fair compromise – with win-win negotiating skills.

You’ll want both parties to feel positive after the negotiation is complete. In other words, emotional needs for both of you have to be met.

So don’t carelessly let something slip out. Whether you struggle to protect your turf, putting an end to people taking advantage of you, or you’re laboring to get what you want in a transaction, there are basic skills you need to know to find solutions that are acceptable to you and the other person.

It doesn’t matter what the stakes are. Understand that your position is strengthened by having the ability to walk away. The winner is the person who’s best prepared for the deal not even happening.

Reagan_Gorbachev_negotiate_outside_Reykjavik_SummitU.S. President Reagan and Soviet Union General Secretary Gorbachev, The Reykjavik Summit

Even at the highest level, U.S. President Ronald Reagan wasn’t afraid to walk away from the 1986 Reykjavik Summit in Iceland. He and Soviet Union General Secretary of the Communist Party Mikhail Gorbachev abruptly called it quits.

But they did make progress and reconvened the following year, which resulted in the history-making Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty of 1987.

The dos:

  1. Determine goals. Decide on your objectives. Know your bottom line.
  2. Anticipate the desires of your opponent. Think collegially – envision the person as your partner in the deal.
  3. Analyze the assets. What do both of you bring to the table?
  4. Evaluate options. That means for both of you.
  5. If you have a history with the other party, analyze your track record and precedents with the person. What issues have impacted the two of you?
  6. Assess the power you bring into the discussion, and that of the other person.
  7. Anticipate the obvious consequences, the corollaries.
  8. Pay attention to detail. Try to put the other person’s needs first. In that way, the person feels as though you’re listening. Show empathy to the other person’s concerns and problems.
  9. Stay calm, no matter what. You’ll keep the emotional advantage. Focus on issues, not personalities.
  10. Keep in mind plan B. Know your options for a fallback position.
  11. Document the deal – get it in writing immediately.

Understand that your position is strengthened by having the ability to walk away.

The don’ts:

  1. Never bargain with someone using the word, “between.” If you offer a range using this word, customers and vendors will only hear the minimum. Sellers and employees will hear the maximum.
  2. Don’t signal the person that you’re done negotiating by using the phrase, “I think we’re close.” You’ll be giving away your power – the person will believe you’re exhausted and that you put a higher priority on getting an agreement instead of achieving your actual goals.
  3. Don’t get into a bidding war. Brand yourself so that you’re the only party the person should deal with. Don’t negotiate against yourself. If you make an offer, wait for the response. Be careful in using the phrase, “Why don’t you throw out a number?” Usually, the first amount mentioned by a seller is the amount that’s ultimately agreed upon.
  4. If you need time to think, don’t establish at the beginning that you’re the final decision-maker. You’ll get more wiggle room if you indicate there’s another person with whom you must speak.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask what you want – be specific about what you want and don’t want.
  6. Don’t negotiate with a person who doesn’t have authority to sign off on a deal.
  7. Don’t do all the talking. The best results occur when the other person does 90 percent of the talking. That’s accomplished by asking open-ended questions, such as “What are your concerns about what I am suggesting?”
  8. Don’t ignore the person’s body language. Know the green lights.
  9. Don’t argue, but discuss items in which there are disagreements.
  10. Steer clear of form contracts. They are designed for a pre-determined outcome. The agreement must reflect the negotiations.
  11. Don’t forget to prepare. Failure to prepare leads to failure in negotiations.

Good luck.

From the Coach’s Corner, remember in all negotiations, your purpose is to sell your ideas or products. You need to know the five value perceptions that motivate customers to buy; seven steps to higher sales; and the three-step process for overcoming sales objections. They’re all included in this related resource link: The Seven Steps to Higher Sales.

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.”

-Abraham Lincoln


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.