A good negotiator prepares, going in, to be ready for possible
surprises; a great negotiator aims to use their skills to reveal
the surprise they are certain to find
Don’t commit assumptions; instead view them as hypotheses and use
the negotiation to test them rigorously
People who view negotiation as a battle of arguments become
overwhelmed by the voices in their head. Negotiation is not an act
of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as
much information as possible.
To quiet the voices in your head, make your sole and
all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.
Slow. It. Down. If we’re in too much of a hurry, people feel as if
they’re not being heard.
Put a smile on your face. When people are in a positive frame of
mind, they are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve.
Use voice inflections appropriately:
The late-night DJ voice: Inflect your voice downward, keeping it
calm and slow. This creates an aura of authority and trustworthiness.
The positive/playful voice: This should be the default voice.
Maintain a light and encouraging attitude.
The assertive voice: Used rarely.
Mirrors: Repeat the last three words of what someone has just said.
This insinuates similarity, which facilitates bonding. It
encourages the other side to empathise and bond with you.
Tactical Empathy: By acknowledging negative feelings and the other
person’s situation, you immediately convey that you are listening.
Focus on clearing the barriers to agreement. Do an accusation
audit: get barriers and negative influences into the open
Pause. After you label a barrier or mirror a statement, the
counterpart will fill the silence.
Label your counterpart’s fears to diffuse their power.
List the worst things that the other party could say about you and
say them before the other person can.
Remember you’re dealing with a person who wants to be appreciated
and understood. Use labels to reinforce and and encourage positive
perceptions and dynamics.
Break the habit of getting people to say “yes”. Being pushed for
yes makes people defensive.
“No” is not a failure. “No” often means “wait”, or “I’m not
comfortable with that”. It is the start of a negotiation, not the end.
“Yes” is the final goal of a negotiation, but don’t aim for it at
Saying “No” makes the speaker feel safe, secure and in control.
Your counterpart defines their space and gains the confidence and
the comfort to listen to you. “Is now a bad time to talk?” is
always better than “Do you have a few minutes to talk?”
Sometimes the only way to get your counterpart to listen and
engage with you is by forcing them into a “No”. This means
intentionally mislabeling one of their emotions or desires or
asking a ridiculous question.
Negotiate in their word. Don’t beat them with logic. Ask them
questions that open paths to your goals.
If a potential business partner is ignoring you, contact with a
clear and concise “No”-oriented question.
Creating unconditional positive regard opens the door to changing
thoughts and behaviours. Humans have an innate urge toward
socially constructive behaviour. The more a person feels
understood, the more likely that urge for constructive behaviour
will take hold.
“That’s right” is better than “yes”. Reaching “that’s right” in a
negotiation creates breakthroughs.
Use a summary to trigger a “that’s right”. The building blocks of
a good summary are a label combined with paraphrasing. Identify,
re-articulate, and emotionally affirm the world according to your
All negotiations are defined by a network of underlying desires
Meeting halfway often leads to bad deals for both sides.
Approaching deadlines entice people to rush the negotiating
process and do impulsive things that are against their best
The word “fair” is an emotional term people usually exploit to put
the other side on the negative and gain concessions. Don’t get
suckered into a concession, always ask why.
You can bend your counterpart’s reality by anchoring his starting
point. Before you make an offer, emotionally anchor them by saying
how bad it will be. Set an extreme anchor to make your “real”
offer seem reasonable, or use a range to seem less aggressive.
People will take more risks to avoid a loss than to realize a
gain. Make sure your counterpart sees that there is something to
lose with inaction.
The listener is the one in control of the conversation.
Don’t try to force your opponent to admit that you are right.
Aggressive confrontation is the enemy of constructive negotiation.
Avoid questions that can be answered with “yes” or tiny pieces of
information. These inspire the human need for reciprocity; you
will be expected to give something back.
Ask calibrated questios that start with the words “how” or “what”.
Give your counterpart the illusion of control, inspire them to
speak at length, revealing important information.
Don’t ask questions that start with “why” unless you want your
counterpart to defend a goal that serves you.
Calibrate your questions to point your counterpart toward solving
your problem. This will encourage them to expend their energy on
devising a solution.
Asking calibrated “how” questions keep your counterpart engaged
but off-balance. Answering the questions give your counterpart the
illusion of control.
Use “how” questions to shape the negotiating environment. Get your
counterpart searching for solutions to your problem.
Don’t just pay attention to the people you’re negotiating with
directly; always identify the motivations of the player’s behind
Follow the 7-38-55 percent rule by paying close attention to tone
of voice and body language. Incongruence between words and
non-verbal signs will show when your counterpart is lying or
uncomfortable with a deal.
Is the “Yes” real or counterfeit? Test with the rule of three: use
calibrated questions, summaries and labels to get your counterpart
to reaffirm their agreement at least three times.
A person’s use of pronouns offers deep insights into their
relative authority. If you’re hearing a lot of “my”, “I”, the real
power to decide probably lies elsewhere. Picking up a lot of “we”,
“they”, it’s more likely you’re dealing with a savvy decision
maker with their options open.
Use your own name to make yourself a real person to the other
side, and even get your own personal discount.
Identify your counterpart’s negotiating style: accomodator,
analyst, or assertive