How to Win in a Negotiation - Preparation

How to Win in a Negotiation

What is winning?  What is winning in a negotiation?  In my latest book, Peaceful Resolutions, the chapter on the Art of Negotiations offers a host of ideas on how to be a principled negotiator being hard on the problem and being soft on the people.   Hard negotiators that are hard on the people disenfranchise others and generally do not result in what could have been a better result.  Soft negotiators that believe all they have to do is be nice can be taken advantage of and can feel that they have been cheated.  This can lead to the need to re-negotiate with a negative starting point.

The month of May is a major speaking month for me.  This month I have spoken to:

The Minnesota Society of CPAs on International Valuation and Transfer Pricing

The Illinois CPA Society on How to Work with the IRS on Business Valuation Issues

The Massachusetts NACVA and ASA chapters on How to Work with the IRS for Business Appraisers and How the IRS Values Non-Controlling Interests in S-Corps

Valuation Research Corporation on Navigating the IRS on Business Valuation Issues in Boston

The Estate Planning Council in Bucks County, Pennsylvania on How to Work with the IRS

And on Monday, AGN International North America in San Diego on Estate and Gift Tax Valuations – What Business Appraisers Need to Know.

Given these technical topics, you may be surprised to learn that I offer not only technical information, but more importantly what I have learned by studying neuroscience and working with those that are in the field.    Applying these techniques are as or even more important than the technical information I provide.  Now board of directors ask me to speak to them and work with them on the elements I will present below.

In short spend about a quarter of the time should be spent learning about the other party (social media, call ahead of time to learn about the other party, and initiate small talk when you start the negotiation).  Make sure you set up an environment with the appropriate atmosphere for a discussion and collaboration.  Have the right parties there to promote dialogue, have the right foods (antioxidants) and beverages (water and coffee or tea to the liking of the other party) to encourage dialogue.  Set aside more than ample time for the meeting to avoid time constraints.  Address all of the senses.

Spend significant time asking good questions.  Listen.  Paraphrase.  Take notes.  Have a goal to summarize what the other party said even better than they said it themselves.   Demonstrate empathy noting the body language, facial expressions and tone of what is said beyond the words being spoken.

Do not argue.  Do not become defensive.  By listening to the other party the other party feels like they have been heard.  This opens them up to listening to you.  Do your homework well relative to your perspective.  Know who is going to speak and how they are going to work to educate the other side.  Don’t try to convince.  Educate them to your interests and concerns.  Get them to say yes.  Once they are working with you, you are ready to start the negotiations.

I have many blog sites from my blog on negotiations and I continually update these on a weekly basis. However I cannot overemphasize taking these steps to prepare for a negotiation.

We tend to focus on our position and what we will do to refute the other side.  We tend to focus on the negotiation, beating the other side and wining by being sustained in our position.   This is a false approach to negotiation.  No biker ever won a race simply biking the race.  Hours of preparation went into getting ready for the race.  The same is true for a negotiation.  Do your homework.  Be prepared not only for the negotiation exercise, but be prepared to build the relationship, listen to the concerns of the other party, and be there to educate the other party in the way they like to learn in order to initiate the negotiation.  My experience is that you will be far more successful.  I tell of actual examples in my presentation that demonstrate this on all of these topics.

Mike is a manager with over 25 years’ experience at all levels of management.  Mike provides services to help clients with conflict resolution on a wide variety of issues.  When not serving clients as a consultant, blogging or tweeting, Mike is an avid writer, speaker and educator.  When not working Mike enjoys family, church, volunteering, and daily yoga, meditation and exercise.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]