Effective Negotiation Skills

Four Forces of Negotiations


  • Benefits the other person wants
  • Formal power
  • Personal sources of power


  • About your own situation
  • About the other party
  • Other relevant influencing factors


  • Deadlines and pressures
  • Opportunity to gain impact
  • Allowing time for readjustment


  • Keeping the objective in mind
  • Open attitude
  • Vocabulary and phraseology

Good negotiators make positive use of the different elements.



Benefits the other person wants

The ‘benefits the other person want can be thought of as the services, products, action etc. under negotiations.

A salesperson will always ‘sell the benefits’ to make buyers see why and how they will be better off with that purchase.

  • “It’s small so it will fit in easily anywhere.”
  • “The service guarantee means that we are available to come and sort out any small problems immediately.”
  • “If you finish it by Thursday then I won’t be chasing you for it on Friday.”

Negotiators think through

  • What the benefits of different agreements or actions will be to the other party, as well as to themselves.
  • What the other party actually does want. What is their motivation?

Emotional rewards and punishments are also part of what the other person want, but may well be overlooked.

  • Rewards include: praise, public recognition, a feeling of success.
  • Punishment includes: embarrassment; a feeling of failure or guilt.


Formal Power

  • A job title: manager; director Title initials surname: Sir, Rev, Mrs., Dr., and Mr. Use it to give you power; don’t allow it to cloak other in power.
  • Others confirm your status (subordinate, secretary etc.)
  • Situational authority: traffic warden, security officer, civil servant etc.


Personal sources of leverage


  • Negotiating on your own territory

  • Personal characteristics

    • Charisma
    • Conviction
    • Articulacy
    • Consistency
  • Positive approach

    • Visible desire for win-win outcome
    • Persistence in seeking a successful approach
  •  Expertise

    • Acknowledged skills
    • Appropriate vocabulary
    • (Documented) facts and precedents in support
  • Options

    • Other alternatives you may choose


Be clear and well informed

Your starting point

  • What do you want?
  • What do you really need?
  • What are you willing to sacrifice in exchange?
  • What are the priorities of needs and wants?
  • What are your pressures, limits or constraining factors:
    • Economics?
    • Time?
    • Legal etc.?


The other party’s position

  • Needs
  • Wants
  • What might they sacrifice?
  • What are their priorities?
  • Their pressures and constraints?


What issues are common to both parties?

  • Objectives
  • Constraints


Points of conflict

  • Do I understand where conflict might occur?
  • What leeway will I allow myself?
  • How will I address, and try to resolve, points of conflict?


Do your homework

  • Get the facts about influencing factors
  • Establish any precedents or conventions

Gathering information is good preparation. The outline game plan will give you confidence and enable you to concentrate on the key issues for yourself.



  • What procedures or processes will be needed?
  • How shall we ensure implementation is as agreed?
  • Are all the important points clearly covered?


Getting information

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for it
    • What
    • When
    • Where
    • How
    • Why
    • Who

Open –ended questions

Cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’


Ask secondary questions. Follow up and probe.

  • What to look for?

    • Facts
    • Reactions and responses
    • Expectations and hopes
    • Wants and desires



  • Published information
  • Other suppliers/customers (people who have also dealt with them)
  • Other people in the other party’s organization
  • The person you are negotiating with

You may find it useful to start collecting information ‘further away’ from the other party. When you then move closer to them, you information gathering will be more focused and you will have a better idea of the overall situation.


Telling aspects

  • How much time is available overall?
  • At what stage different issues, offers etc. are introduced (early, middle, late)
  • What other pressures or demand are in operation.


The lessons of observation

  • Eighty percent of concessions are made in the last 20% of the time.

When people have the end in sight, they often either relax their defenses or concede points, or they feel under pressure to complete the negotiation and will give way on points in order to do so.

It is therefore to your advantage to get as many as possible of your important points agreed before the ‘last lap’.


Additional benefits

Conversely when negotiations are coming to the end, or time is beginning to press, you are more likely to get the other party to compromise; or you may be able to get agreement for additional benefits for yourself:

  • Delivery included
  • Service agreements
  • Training included
  • Additional small features

When you are (or appear to be) under no time (or other) pressure – and others are – you are in a stronger position. Where you are under time pressure, it is sensible to try and ‘front load’ both content and timing of negotiations, so that you are left with fewer elements to deal with at the end. Where people need to reassess, readjust, or shift their position, it is advisable to take a break to allow the new position to be arranged, absorbed or accepted.


Keeping the objective in mind

  • The self-fulfilling prophecy

    • Or “if you don’t expect much, you don’t get much”.
    • Don’t be afraid to set your sights high.
    • Try to make smaller concessions than the other party and vary the issues on which you make them, which discourage direct comparison of offers.
    • Studies have shown that negotiators with high expectations achieve more favorable agreements than those with low expectations. This is true for both ‘selling’ and ‘buying’ ideas, offers, etc.


The overall goal

  • Avoid getting side-tracked on enmeshed in detail
  • Don’t allow personal style to distract you from the objective.


Open attitude

  • Visible openness and confidence that you can reach a conclusion acceptable to both parties.
  • Willingness to listen and respond to the ideas of others.
  • Avoidance of head-to-head confrontation.


Vocabulary and phraseology

  • Avoid ‘no’. find a more positive phrase

    • “We’ll have to work on that”
    • “I don’t think my board will accept that”
    • “I’ve got a long list of other priorities”
    • “Can we do it a different way?”


Use vocabulary familiar to the other party except where you are establishing your own expertise.

  • Even then don’t make people feel inadequate.