Negotiation - common negotiation questions answered here

From boardroom dispute to negotiating the sale of your business and everything in between


If you are involved in a business negotiation or if you think you are about to get involved in one you should speak to a negotiator.Negotiations are always much easier to conduct and bring a better result when planned and professionally conducted by people with experience who are not emotionally involved.

There is no such thing as a small deal. Even minimal guidance from a negotiator can make a big difference. What is small now may one day be larger and you could be stuck in an expensive contract. Also, not every deal is about money so winning concessions on non-financial matters can be important.

A negotiator is trained to you find a good solution that works for you as well as your counterparty but ensures that you maximise what you get out of the deal. Negotiators consider the needs and wants of your counterparty in a dispassionate manner that you may not understand, and can exploit these to your benefit.

At the outset or in the middle. Your counterparty need not know that you are consulting a negotiator. A negotiation is not over until it is finally  agreed  so you can change your mind.

The friend is not a professional and too many people think they are good negotiators. In reality they lack training and experience, which will bring you an inferior result.

No.It can end in deadlock.

In such a scenario the parties would return home and may re-engage in the future after appraising how the negotiation went or they may simply walk away from each other for good.

It should be. If one side goes home feeling they have been trampled upon it usually comes back to bite the "winning" party. 

Often matters are acrimonious or have the potential to take a turn for the worst at this stage in what can be a febrile and charged environment. A negotiator will be emotionally neutral and focused on performing a professional job, therefore being able to achieve things that you could not.

Negotiators come from all backgrounds but their core skill is in helping their client to clarify and prioritise their objectives and to get into the mind of their counterparty, often using tried and tested tactics to gain valuable concessions. Where legal, accounting or any other professional advice is necessary, the negotiator will encourage the parties to take such advice.

If you can find a way to approach them with a compelling offer to open their minds up anything is possible. It is not necessarily a sign of weakness to make an approach to a party who hitherto has not been willing to engage. Using a third party can help things along.

You do. You are in control of the process from start to finish. You are free to accept or decline the advice of your negotiator.

At the end of the negotiation process if it leads to the parties drawing up an agreement as a contract it will be legally binding. In any negotiation until you agree everything you are entitled to change your mind.

Yes you can, as negotiation is a voluntary process

The most common format for a negotiation is as follows:

Pre negotiation: The negotiator will be in contact with you and request an outline of the case and any supporting documents. The negotiator will discuss both your position, the other party’s position and the range of outcomes you envisage, being mindful of where you want to end up.

Starting negotiation : Whether it is a face to face with the negotiator present or without him or her present one party will usually make their case and the negotiations will begin. Usually it is fairly clear who has to open and there can be advantages in letting the other side speak first especially if they are not experienced at negotiating.

Private session: After the joint session face to face the negotiator will spend time with you reviewing what has been said and offered and re-examining the position of the parties. Where the negotiator is behind the scenes this can take place at any point.

Having said all this, it is important to note that no two negotiations will be the same, and the negotiator may vary the process to suit your requirements as they see fit.

All negotiation is confidential before, during and after the process. Notes will not be held by the negotiator.

If you require another member of your firm to assist you are entitled to do so but the more people there are the greater the chance of tactical blunders by inexperienced colleagues.

Lawyers are far more expensive and slower. You could unwittingly end up in court which is where they feel comfortable and you will not. A negotiator takes a more commercial view of the situation and it is less confrontational.

Negotiation is about two parties sitting down do do a deal and ensure that each one comes away satisfied. Different people have different needs at different times, so something that is not important to you could be very valuable to the  other party and conversely. Negotiation is a process that involves trying to work out what matters to the other party and how an mutually agreeable settlement can be reached so both parties go home satisfied. 

Boardroom negotiations involving directors, shareholders and partners are very common but can have the most damaging effect. Usually the root is either down to poor drafting of agreements at the outset or a failure of one party to understand the needs of the other. 

Whatever the cause the ramifications can be catastrophic as often the business ends up deadlocked or one party walks out taking with a swathe of clients and contracts. The only beneficiaries in these circumstances are usually solicitors, and the squabbling parties end up so entrenched that homes and life savings can be lost along with the damage done by stress and aggravation.

An independent negotiator can often bring the dispute to a swift resolution especially as the negotiator will be taking a commercial view  or at least advising their client what is and is not feasible. Our negotiators have many years of SME boardroom issues at a practical level.

Negotiating is a normal part of business. It may appear that you are both taking on entrenched positions of mistrust but there is no reason why it cannot be amicable. In fact a successful negotiation where both parties allow each other to feel they have succeeded and respected each other's position can lay the foundations for a mutually rewarding relationship well into the future.