Negotiation - preparation is everything

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail when you negotiate

Most people start a negotiation ready to fail because they fail to prepare, but they don’t realise this, although their counterparty may well discover it pretty early in the process. Here are 5 essential tips to help you prepare.


  • Ask yourself honestly whether you have the experience or skills to manage the negotiation yourself or whether you are better off engaging  the assistance of a professional negotiator to negotiate on your behalf.


  • Know that it is not about win / lose – it is about win/win. When both parties feel they are achieving something the negotiation process will be much easier and produce better outcomes for everybody.


  • Consider what your opponent is seeking and how much a particular outcome is worth to them. Something that is of little value to you could be worth a great deal to them. Try to gain an insight into their bottom line and what they may concede.


  • Be clear about what you are seeking to achieve and stay focused on it. Don’t get sidetracked or greedy and if the negotiation takes an unexpected turn ask for time out to reassess whether your goals need to change. Don’t be rushed or pressurized and keep your thoughts and emotions to yourself.


  • Understand your alternatives if the negotiation fails. Are they palatable or feasible to pursue? Is no deal better than a bad deal for you, and what about your opponent – what will they do in the event of deadlock?

As a parting thought be aware that deadlock is not something to be afraid of. The threat of deadlock can be a very powerful weapon in your armoury, in some ways like a nuclear deterrent. Just remember to approach it with the utmost care and make sure you can handle the fallout.