Negotiation

Introduction 

Life is an endless string of negotiations from the moment we’re born, till the moment we die. It may sound brutal and unreal, but it’s the utter truth. The only difference is how we negotiate, and why we negotiate. 

  1. The lunch today with your mom? What are you having?
  2. The meeting with our client tomorrow? Where are you meeting? 
  3. The trip to Barcelona you ought to take next weekend? How do you get there?

You’ll certainly try to negotiate with the opposite party (highly likely even more than once!) throughout your lunch/meeting/trip and the opposite also applies - the others will try initiating some level of negotiation, rather than simply responding to your requests. 

So, if you're keen to understand the basics of negotiation practices as well as gain insight into relevant negotiation examples, read on! 

What Is Negotiation? 

Negotiation is about achieving goals via cooperation

The term negotiation is said to have had its humble beginnings in the early fifteenth century from the Old French negociacion (which comes from Latin negotiatio and neg - "no" and otium - "leisure"). These terms have the following meanings: traffic, business, and trade. 

Later on, somewhere around the late 1570s the term changed its meaning and got a definition much closer to today’s understanding of negotiation. So, according to Tony Robbins 

In the broadest sense of the term, a negotiation is a discussion between two or more parties who must cooperate to achieve their respective goals. Negotiations require a give and take by both parties to attain a result that is mutually beneficial. Successful business negotiation tactics often mean maximizing the meeting of your interests. You are striking an agreement with another person, and while you want this agreement to benefit both parties, you also want to get the most out of it.

That said, these negotiation tactics don’t apply only to business contexts. In fact, as you’ll see later on in our article, we negotiate on a daily basis - and oftentimes it’s much more frequently done within our private lives rather than in specific business contexts. 

Stages of the Negotiation Process 

Overall, negotiation is a very important aspect of our lives, and how we engage in it is up to us, as well as what we want to gain from a specific negotiation practice. In general, a negotiation process consists of several stages:

  • Preparation (this may depend on several factors - you can prepare for the actual negotiation, you can prep the location, a presentation if you’re doing a more formal thing, or prepare some notes; or if it’s a completely informal context, simply try evaluating how you feel about this specific scenario); 
  • Discussion (the second stage refers to both parties explaining their positions, views, and thoughts about the thing being negotiated over); 
  • Clarification of goals (going through each party’s goals and aims is very important, as it signalizes whether the two sides are on the same page or they’re simply headed toward opposite directions);
  • Negotiate towards a win-win outcome (although this may not always be possible, it’s okay to strive to obtain it, however, be open to alternative outcomes);
  • Agreement (you can reach an agreement once both sides have reached a mutual understanding and have found common ground);
  • Implementation of a course of action (this one is pretty much self-explanatory; once you’ve gone through all the other stages, you’ve outlined your views and have started your requests, and you’ve finally managed to reach a common agreement, then you need to put in the effort to see the plan through).

Sources of Resistance to Negotiation

There may be nothing unusual about someone not wanting to take part in negotiation, however, you may find the reasons behind it more interesting than someone's actual resistance to participate in negotiations: 

Neurobiological 

According to scientists, there’s a neurochemical release in the brain, usually triggered by a specific circumstance to either withdraw or fight back. However, there’s no such neurochemical reaction to negotiate. Hence, negotiation is said to be a secondary response, and it’s perceived as a more conscious decision.

Cultural 

Cultural factors can play a huge role in the way we understand negotiation. It’s assumed that the effects of negotiation processes are something that has been passed down through the centuries. According to Richard Dawkins, a well-known evolutionary biologist, negative behaviors have been transmitted from generation to generation by so-called “memes” as part of a process that very much resembles the transmission of biological traits. 

Psychological

A lot of people may find it difficult to take actual responsibility for their own decisions and negotiation practices. This is especially true for societies where people could lack even basic knowledge about negotiation. Plus, this could be worse if they’re predisposed to the belief that negotiation is a risky thing, and they may even hesitate to take part out of fear that they’ll be taken for fools. 

Moral 

Some may consider the act of negotiation to be an immoral one. For instance, they could be extremely religious and even if they’re in a situation that requires a minor negotiation intervention (such as a dog barking), this could still be a major thing for them. Overall, they may perceive negotiation as a sinful, evil act.

Negotiation Definition 

Negotiation requires clear communication

Negotiation is:

  • persuasive power; 
  • transparent communication; 
  • a strategic discussion; 
  • justifying your position, but also understanding the position of the other party; 
  • closing deals beneficial for all the parties involved; 
  • a method that enables people to settle their differences;
  • an intellectual dialogue between two or more people; 
  • satisfying various interests; 
  • dealing with issues of mutual interests; 
  • finding common ground; 
  • reaching satisfactory agreements; 
  • knowing when to take initiative, but also when to pull away; 
  • defending your opinions, views, and reasons without imposing;
  • successful resolving of points of difference; 
  • reaching a beneficial outcome; 
  • establishing a positive relationship with the other side; 
  • knowing how to put yourself in someone else’s shoes; 
  • deep interaction; 
  • reaching a common end-goal between two or more parties; 
  • a practical life test of how far you’re willing to go to get what you want/need/desire. 

Negotiation isn't: 

  • a conflict; 
  • ignoring (and even criticizing) alternative solutions only because they don’t fit your agenda;
  • misinforming and/or misleading others;
  • an angry reaction to what another person has said/suggested/claimed; 
  • an unhealthy competition; 
  • taking advantage of a situation that’s considered quite unfair and underhand; 
  • sticking your nose in someone else’s business; 
  • influencing someone in an unscrupulous manner; 
  • unsound rivalry;
  • refusing compromises (you can’t always have it your way); 
  • selfish behavior;
  • supposed to be a struggle or cause frustrations; 
  • having unrealistic expectations; 
  • verbal abuse; 
  • being negligent of other people’s needs, feelings, and opinions; 
  • chasing your own desires and needs; 
  • a manipulative, deceiving, and/or any type of unethical behavior (we’ll stress this over and over throughout the article).

The History of Negotiation 

The past 

Negotiation practices emanate back from our origins as species. Of course, we’re talking about completely different lifestyles back then (meaning different negotiation principles too), but the premise is still the same: ever since its beginnings, humans needed to solve basic problems and convey their point of view. 

Even today most of life depends on negotiation. It may sound controversial, but it’s true, in a way. In the past, men would negotiate what they’d eat once they got back from hunting; women would delegate tasks to the children; and so on. 

Then, if we focus on some of the most impactful war periods (such as the two World Wars), we’ll understand that negotiation was all about survival and keeping people safe. 

Of course, we’re not going to dwell on much history, as that’s not the main purpose of our article, but we’re mentioning this because we’re trying to make you better understand the role negotiation used to have vs. the one it has now. But in general, it seems as though humans have managed to thrive as a species based on how good they are at negotiating. 

That said, negotiations aren’t exclusively available to humans. In fact, according to animal ethnologists, there are many fascinating similarities “between animals and humans available for observation at any local dog park or on the street. A dog’s low growl is, for example, not unlike a human’s issuance of an ultimatum, saying in effect, ‘this far and no further--or else…’”. 

This doesn’t only tell us that humans aren’t the only species capable of negotiation though. It tells us negotiation can happen between a human and an animal, although the approach and its application will obviously differ. And the fact both species can somehow understand what the other one is implying bears witness to the fact that both have evolved since their beginnings. 

Finally, history is a very interesting aspect to analyze - as people adjust to the periods they lived in, they modified and adjusted their negotiation needs and skills accordingly. 

The present 

Throughout the years and history in general, there have been types of negotiations and many successful negotiators. For instance, one such negotiator is Nelson Mandela. Take a look at one of his speeches: 

Our efforts to counter hatred, intolerance, and indifference must continue simultaneously at individual and structural levels. We must try to influence for good the minds and hearts of individual people through dialogue and confidence building. These efforts must be reinforced by our efforts to create just structures in society to support the ongoing work of negotiations in the human community. Only then will we have a chance to negate the terrible consequences of the tremendous conflicts facing humankind today.

There are many other inspiring examples such as this one, but we should not forget the following either: such public examples are indeed invaluable, but negotiation skills are so versatile, that they develop differently when used each day in common scenarios by “ordinary people”. This is a fascinating fact on its own, as then the development differs from public negotiations and speeches we’re otherwise exposed to through various media channels. 

Most of our daily negotiation practice is learned organically. It’s not like we got through a formal education process where we gain a degree in negotiation. Sure, further education can help you become a more professional negotiator, but most of the time we handle negotiation situations pretty much instinctively (along with combining our background knowledge and previous experiences). 

We negotiate about a lot of things each day:

  • who’s dropping the kids off to school today;
  • whose turn it is to do the laundry; 
  • are we ordering a Margherita or a Quattro formaggi pizza; 
  • are we drinking red or white wine (perhaps even rose?);
  • if we’re going skiing this winter or we’re saving money for an expensive summer holiday on the beach;
  • and so, so much more! 

If you’re laughing at these examples, then you must have identified yourself with them. 

We’ll elaborate more on such examples in our Examples of Negotiation in Everyday Life section where we go deeper into such matters. So, make sure you continue reading!

Why Is Negotiation Important? 

Negotiation is an essential life skill. It’s much more than just a salesperson trying to convince you to buy something, or convincing your boyfriend to watch a comedy and not the horror film he wanted to see. Negotiation goes beyond the situations we might think of initially. 

That said, it doesn’t mean such examples aren’t relevant or matter less than other ones. In fact, such examples occur in our lives on a daily basis that we don’t even perceive them as something strange, as we’ve grown so accustomed to them. In reality, negotiation is such a huge aspect of our lives that sometimes we even fail to identify it as such. 

As Christopher Voss said: “The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in”. Keeping this in mind, we believe knowing you’re part of a negotiation is significant, but what also matters is understanding the importance of negotiation in general. 

So, here’s why we believe negotiation matters:

  • It helps you improve some of your other skills too (such as persuasive skills, creativity, reasoning, logic, and so on). 
  • Negotiation helps you become more determined and self-confident. It also allows you to grow as an individual. 
  • It reveals other people’s intentions, but also their responses and reactions to your demands. 
  • You clearly discern how to get the things in life that matter to you, but you also learn a thing or two about yourself (for instance, how you react those times when you don’t get them). 
  • It helps you analyze and approach problems better by making you a better (but also a faster!) thinker. 
  • Negotiation helps you deliver long-lasting and high-quality solutions to problems and various issues. 
  • Good negotiation contributes to business success and self-confidence. 
  • It requires give-and-take and forces you to learn how to balance them properly over time. 
  • Negotiation teaches you that playing fair can take you far. 
  • It shows you the impact of self-control and self-awareness. 
  • Proper negotiation should teach you about adequate criticism and the importance of providing arguments and facts to support your claims and views. 
  • It shows you the value of reaching agreements. 
  • Negotiation helps boost active listening. 
  • Over time it helps you understand why keeping your emotions in check is important and why it is you who should have control over them rather than it being the other way round. 
  • It boosts teamwork skills and overall social skills too. 
  • It makes you more patient and detailed. It makes you more emphatic as well. 
  • Negotiation brings about better assertiveness. 
  • It illustrates the significance of exchanging ideas. 
  • Negotiation helps all areas of your life:
    • At work, it makes you a better worker/ colleague (it improves team dynamics);
    • It helps you become a better partner (you share your feelings in a much better and well-planned manner);
    • It impacts your family relationships (you become better at expressing what bothers you and what you’re fine with). 

How to Develop Negotiation Skills? 

Negotiation is about overcoming obstacles to arrive at a common goal.

There are many ways to work on improving your negotiation skills. Although some people may naturally be good at negotiating, there are still some tips and tricks to help you become even better at it. To following is not an exhaustive list, but it sure is more than enough to get you started.

  • Always strive to understand the other party’s viewpoints, opinions, and thoughts.
  • See the potential in places where other people struggle (as Chris Murray put it, “We all need salespeople who deliver value that wasn’t there before they arrived.”).
  • Compare your advantages to the other side’s advantages, but not from an angry or jealous point of view. 
  • Always be clear on your priorities. Never come off as disinterested or absent-minded. It sends off wrong signals and it can take the whole negotiation practice in the wrong direction. 
  • Educate yourself (for instance, online courses such as the one(s) we offer can help you grow). 
  • Practice building good rapport. 
  • Be willing to compromise, but not at all costs, and certainly not if you’re not happy with the solution reached. Your opinion and input matter as much as those of the other side. 
  • Think about the potential objections and obstacles you may face. This will help you prepare for each negation much better. 
  • Always have a list prepared with alternative solutions (in case your first plan fails). This will help you feel more confident in your negotiation, and it helps boost your intellectual skills too. In essence, you need some strategizing. 
  • Take a look at some areas where you feel you lack confidence and see where it stems from. 
  • Understand your weaknesses, but don’t see them as such. Getting clear on your weaknesses doesn’t mean you don’t get a shot at “winning” - it simply means you know which areas you need to improve and/or accept as such. 
  • Learn to understand your leverages. 
  • Make clear on your end-goal: 
    • Why are you doing this?
    • What’s the point of this negotiation?
    • Can you explain your views better?
    • What does the other side have that you don’t, and vice versa - what is it the other side has, but you don’t? Analyze both pros and cons. 

Examples of Negotiation in Everyday Life 

Personal Situations 

We negotiate in our private lives more than we’re actually aware of. We may classify many of our daily conversations as negotiations; they really are precisely that - they’re just slightly adjusted from the standard way in which we tend to think about negotiation.

We tend to negotiate from our very early age - about our food preferences, toys, friends, going late to bed (You know how kids always tend to ask for “5 more minutes” before they have to go to sleep? And they say “I’ll do x tomorrow”; “I’ll even eat the broccoli you bought if only you let me finish my favorite TV show/ play with my favorite toy”, and so on). 

The fact we aren’t aware we’re negotiating doesn’t lessen the negotiation itself. In fact, one of the most significant negotiations occurs in our private lives. What changes throughout life are the things we wish to negotiate about. Of course, they also depend on specific contexts. 

For instance, if we’re traveling with our significant other we negotiate about the hotel we choose to sleep in, the sights we’re going to see, the means we’ll use to travel (Are we flying/driving? How many cities are we visiting? Who’s paying for what? Are we booking a half board or we’ll be eating outside?). Indeed, there are many factors to consider. 

We do the same when:

  • we’re buying clothes (“I think red looks great on you”; “Oh, but I prefer the green blouse”;);
  • we’re buying groceries (“We bought watermelon last time, let’s buy bananas today.”);
  • we’re dealing with our nightlife (“We went to that club you wanted on Saturday, let’s go to this new place this weekend, shall we?);
  • we’re at work (“I covered for you last week, do you think you can help me out with this task?”);
  • we’re hanging out with our friends (“You never tell me anything about your parents - meanwhile you know everything about mine! What are yours like? Do you fight? Do they annoy you?), and so on. 

How to approach this? 

  • What is my view on this? Do I get a say? If not, where’s the problem? 
  • How subjective am I in my negotiations? How willing am I to compromise? 
  • Do I give up easily during my negotiation practices?
  • Do I need to work on brushing up my negotiation skills? If yes, how do I do it? And more importantly, do I dare admit I need to work on them?
  • Am I easily intimidated/ influenced? 
  • Does x help me build better relationships with people? If not, why am I still holding onto it? 
  • Are you part of dramatic “he said - she said” scenarios daily? Why is that so? Do you know why you keep on attracting such events into your life? Can you negotiate your way out of them? 
  • Am I willing to tolerate toxic behaviors and unrealistic demands only to keep certain people in my life? If yes, why am I doing this to myself? 
  • If you aren’t sure where certain negotiation requirements are going, take a deep breath, and think about them in greater detail. Even consider making a list to gain better clarity. 
  • Do I want to take part in x negotiation? Is this really in my highest good? 
  • Remember: 
    • practice makes perfect;
    • your values, opinions, and thoughts are there for a reason - you don’t need to change them to satisfy others’ expectations; 
    • don’t fall for people’s caprices; 
    • saying “no” doesn’t make you a bad friend/ colleague/ partner/ parent.

Politics 

Negotiations aren’t excluded from politics. In fact, when we talk about negotiation in politics, we can even say that we’re talking about negotiation on a whole new level. This is because sometimes two political parties can negotiate and other times two different countries, or even various different organizations. 

Usually, if a country negotiates with another country both countries are said to represent the country’s interests and views. Political negotiations can last for a long time, can be very diplomatic without others sensing what’s beneath, and are heavily reliant on what’s being served in the media. So, normal people may not even get the full scope of it. As Јane Mansbridge put it: “We’re not saying everything can be negotiated. We’re saying that more things can be negotiated than people think. A lot more.”

There are countless examples of political negotiations; some have really left a historical mark, while others haven’t been so noticeable. Whatever the case may be, they remain relevant for the specific country and the people - especially the consequences of these negotiations. 

To illustrate the power negative words have, let’s take a look at the following Brexit quotes which tackle the issue of negotiation in one way or the other: 

“There are only two realistic outcomes . . . Either the UK leaves the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement (“no deal”) or we revoke Article 50 completely. Everything else — more negotiating, an election, another referendum — is just delaying the inevitable final choice.” 

- David Paton

The EU will want to negotiate a new deal with the UK because “they’ve got the Brexit MEPs they don’t particularly want; they want us out; they’ve got the incentive of the money . . . but you have the extra incentive of course that the UK will be ready to come out, as you know, on WTO terms.”

- Boris Johnson 

“This has become a Remain-majority country. This seminal fact — mostly due to Labour voters changing their minds, plus the older, more pro-Brexit voters dying, and the young, more Remain, entering the register — is missing from most public discussion.”

- Polly Toynbee 

How to approach this? 

  • Do I trust this politician?
  • What do I think about the overall politics of my country? Also, do I consider myself a political person to start with?
  • What are my expectations from politics?
  • What implications does politics have in my country? 
  • If I don’t vote, am I being indifferent?
  • Do I believe all political parties are the same? Have I really gotten that impression myself or because of something I’ve read/heard?
  • How subjective am I when it comes to politics?
  • Have I ever been personally affected by someone’s political decision? If yes, how? (also consider the feelings you associate with this particular experience). 
  • Are there times when you need to take a break from politics/negotiation? 

Business 

Negotiation involves finding common ground.

Companies 

Business negotiations are the toughest, but the most rewarding ones as well (not only financially, but professionally too!). It takes a skilled negotiator to get what they want, but it also requires an opposite party that’s willing to accept the terms. So, oftentimes companies negotiate with another company to sell products, plan a joint project, evaluate common competitors, and so on. 

What’s more, companies tend to negotiate with clients too! And this can be a challenge, as, on one hand, companies and salespersons want to satisfy their goals, but on the other hand, they know they can’t afford to lose clients if they don’t accept the clients’ suggestions too. According to Shahenshah Hafeez Khan, 

“Salespersons can win most of the negotiation battles with clients if they avoid saying an outright “No” even to impossible requests, pretend that you are trying before you say a “No” The art is to absorb all internal procedures and protocols & never let the insecurities reach the client till the last minute. Let the customer think that you have made the best effort.” 

Finally, business negotiations are sometimes disputes where two parties need to find common ground. Here are several examples of great negotiation stories: 

Apple and Samsung

In August 2012, a California jury ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple more than $1 billion in damages for patent violations of Apple products (especially its iPhone). The judge eventually ended up reducing the payout to $600 million. Later on, another jury ruled that Samsung would have to pay Apple $290 million of the amount overruled by the judge in the 2012 case.

Simon & Schuster vs. Barnes & Noble

In January 2013, after months and months of negotiations with the publishing house Simon & Schuster, Barners & Noble tried to take advantage by cutting down on the number of Simon & Schuster title orders (and they also tried other ruthless negotiation tactics - for example, they refused to book the publisher’s authors scheduled for various in-store readings). As Barnes & Noble is said to sell around 20% of books in the USA, the editors from Simon & Schuster ended up feeling quite “apoplectic” about this situation. 

Apple’s price-fixing defeat

In 2007, five highly significant U.S. publishers negotiated a fresh new business model for e-book pricing with Apple (they were, in fact, getting ready to launch the iPad). After at least one of the publishers threatened to slow down the release of their digital editions to Amazon unless they switched to a more lucrative model, Amazon agreed (although reluctantly) and e-book prices ended up rising across the industry to about $14.99. The Department of Justice afterward blamed all the parties of conspiring to unnaturally raise e-book prices.

How to approach this?
  • Don’t let money carry you away from what’s actually important - your dignity, authority, and brand awareness. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you don’t need to be successful or earn money from your business endeavors - it just means it shouldn't be your priority at all costs and at all times. 
  • Treat others with the respect you want to receive. 
  • Why do you think your conditions or terms are valid? Can you back them up with arguments? 
  • Can you explain the reasons for your current position? In case you can’t, why is that so? 
  • How do you present that which you bring to the table when negotiating a specific deal?
  • What part of a specific business negotiation concerns you the most? 

Salaries 

Another very important type of negotiation in the business context is salary negotiation. Yet, it seems in practice it’s rarely applied. Namely, according to the PayScale Salary Negotiation survey, 57% of all respondents haven’t asked for a raise in their field, the reasons being:

  • My employer gave me a raise before I needed to ask for one (38%);
  • I’m uncomfortable negotiating salary (28%);
  • I didn’t want to be perceived as pushy (19%).

Here are other key takeaways from the survey:

  • The higher your annual salary, the more likely you are to have asked for a raise, and the more likely you are to have received it.
  • Women are more likely to state that they are uncomfortable in starting salary negotiation than men (31% vs. 23%).
  • Women holding an MBA degree seem to struggle more with potential gender bias when it comes to salary negotiation. 
  • Workers with low job satisfaction are more likely to ask for a raise (54%) than those with high job satisfaction (41%), but only 19% of people with low job satisfaction receive the salary raise they asked for, whereas 44% of workers with high job satisfaction receive the salary increase they requested. 

We know salary negotiation isn’t a piece of cake, but it’s a necessary segment of your professional life and further career development. An increase in your salary means higher motivation, better income, more happiness in the workplace, and, in general, has a lot more benefits than you may initially think. 

In fact, sometimes salary negotiation isn’t only about negotiating a raise; it’s more so about being valued, recognized, and praised. As we said, it’s not going to be easy, but it will definitely be worth it. 

Finally, do realize that after negotiating your salary and your raise, you’ll probably end up having many more responsibilities too. Getting promoted has its “cons” too. So before you opt for such a decision make sure it’s a thing you can handle well and that you’re willing to give your best. 

How to approach this? 
  • Stand firmly for what you believe in. Find a way to get your achievements recognized. 
  • Is this salary negotiation happening too soon? Do you feel like you should have waited more? Do you feel insecure about stepping up to your superior(s)? 
  • What’s holding you back from asking what you want? What’s the worst that could happen if you got rejected? 
  • Be ready to face some resistance, but don’t let that put you off. Organize your thoughts carefully. 
  • Slowly build your case and approach. You don’t want to improvise on the spot. 
  • Have a salary range rather than a specific figure in mind. Be open to further negotiations and options. 
  • Know your worth and choose the right moment (for instance, seeing your boss pissed because of a rude client that just came out of his office may not be the best moment to start such a conversation). 

Famous Quotes About Negotiation

Negotiation skills supercharges teamwork.

While negotiation is all about practical and real-life applications, we believe that some theory every now and then won’t hurt. That’s why we selected inspiring negotiation quotes to further encourage you to analyze the concept of negotiation as a skill. 

Of course, if you have any other quotes surrounding this topic, please share them! Who knows, we might end up updating our quotes, and including some of yours too - so, do let us know how you feel about this, we’d love to negotiate! :) 

Now, let’s take a look at them together first! 

“[Empathy] is not about being nice or agreeing with the other side. It's about understanding them. Empathy helps us learn the position the enemy is in, why their actions make sense (to them), and what might move them.

As negotiators, we use empathy because it works.” 

- Chris Voss

“People make their decisions based on what the facts mean to them, not on the facts themselves” 

- Roy J. Lewicki

“The thing about negotiations, not to mention the manipulation, is you can't go too far in any direction. Refusing once is good, twice is usually okay but a third is risky. You never know when the third person will stop playing and you end up with nothing.” 

- Sarah Dessen

“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing.”

- Carrie Fisher 

“Negotiation is not about figuring out who is right or wrong. It is about getting the parties involved to agree to embrace the other party’s perspective.” 

- Elizabeth Suarez 

“In business as in life, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.” 

- Krishna Sagar

“The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts. And there was a considerable challenge to that here and understandably so.”

- Howard Baker 

“In a negotiation, we must find a solution that pleases everyone, because no one accepts that they must lose and that the other must win... Both must win!” 

- Nabil N. Jamal

“The only thing certain about any negotiation is that it will lead to another negotiation.”

- Leigh Steinberg

“During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.”

- Brian Koslow 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the qualities of a good negotiator?

A good negotiator is:

  • someone who sees all negative experiences as valuable lessons;
  • never lazy; 
  • ready to spend time planning their negotiation endeavors; 
  • supposed to have proper knowledge of the subject being negotiated over; 
  • a person who has their own set of negotiating rules; 
  • not a procrastinator; 
  • patient and knows how to stay detached from a particular situation in order to see it from a higher perspective; 
  • pretty charming (not manipulative though); 
  • a highly logical person who knows how to rationalize matters without allowing to be fully led by feelings and subjective needs; 
  • self-confident, but doesn’t allow their ego to take over the matters; 
  • aware of who they’re talking with, and why they’re talking in the first place (as Chris Murray wrote: “If what you sell doesn’t help me then why are you knocking on my door?” 
  • able to think clearly under a lot of pressure and uncertain situations;
  • open to changes; 
  • capable of showing empathy and always tries to understand the other side (even in the most challenging situations);
  • someone who knows how to judge others’ characters and can more or less predict their next steps; 
  • abe to see several steps ahead; 
  • someone who has adequate persuasion skills (for more on this, check out our informative negotiation course); 
  • isn't afraid of making mistakes, and more importantly, isn’t afraid to recognize they made one; 
  • is persistent, but doesn’t annoy others and knows when to pull back;
  • a person who knows when to give and when to take advice; 
  • able to consider a lot of options before they make a final decision; 
  • someone who stands firmly behind their beliefs, but also isn’t afraid to keep an open mind; 
  • willing to create win-win situations where both parties go home satisfied. 

What is the best time of day to negotiate?

You may consider this to be a funny question - and we get it - why would there be the best time of the day to negotiate, right? We had the same reaction too! That said, it turns out there are certain periods when people may be more open to negotiation and meaningful discussions, and if it weren’t for these “periods”, they may not be as willing and accepting. The more we read about this matter, the clearer things became. 

Namely, certain periods of the day can make people more (or less) attentive and alert. So, if you end up negotiating with someone early in the morning when people are generally less stressed, you may have a better shot at being successful in your negotiating pursuits. Having said that, in the morning people tend to be sleepy and not in the mood for negotiation, which may end up being counterproductive for the negotiator. 

At lunch, however, people are generally more open to discussion, talks, and potential negotiations. In the early afternoon (especially after lunch), people tend to become more sleepy, and thus, they could potentially be less interested in negotiating. 

In the late afternoon, people are exhausted from the day and all the tasks they had to handle. This is a two-edged sword though - for some, it may mean they’ll be more willing to accept your views without objecting, but others may be more cranky and grumpy, thus less willing to consider your opinion. 

Dinner is said to be “a good time for subtle persuasion”. Also, do you know that many significant negotiations such as marriage proposals are done over dinner? With our stomachs full and the day approaching an end, people seem to be more open to various suggestions. 

Overall, our advice is to get informed about the potential periods when negotiations are best done, but also listen to your guts and remember it’s up to YOU to identify the best time to engage in negotiating with another person. 

What should you not do in a negotiation?

While negotiation is a process that allows for a lot of freedom and encourages having a personalized approach, there are things that may prove to be counterproductive. Here are some of the most common things you shouldn't do in a negation:

  • don’t make assumptions before listening to what the other side has to say;
  • don’t lie, manipulate, and/or cheat; 
  • don’t take stuff too personally; 
  • don’t have a fake attitude; 
  • keep your ethics and values in check at all times; 
  • don’t rush and make decisions before you’ve actually taken everything into account; 
  • engage in poor planning;
  • ignore the other party’s needs, interests, and goals; 
  • don’t be a know-it-all; 
  • look down on your opponent; 
  • not allow the other person to say what they truly mean and feel about the specific matter; 
  • remember that having an “all-or-nothing” attitude won’t get you far; 
  • take things out of context as to suit your negotiating needs; 
  • don’t ignore your errors (understand what goes wrong, and how you can fix things the next time); 
  • don’t start without a bottom line; 
  • don’t get caught up in emotions and subjective reasoning; 
  • don’t be driven by your ego; 
  • don’t underestimate your worth (and the other side’s worth too!); 
  • don’t be narrow-minded (sometimes a counteroffer might open doors for future possibilities you haven’t had the chance to even consider); 
  • get into verbal fights if you and the other side aren’t on the same page (basically know when to stop, let things go, and move on to the next negotiating task and opportunity).

Finally, there isn’t a strict guidebook which lets you know exactly what should and what shouldn't be done during the process of negotiation. Of course, some of these things are offending and it goes without saying that you shouldn't apply them (such as lying, manipulating, not allowing the other person to have a say, and so on), but other than that, try to take a leap of faith and do as you feel guided without being overly focused on following strict rules and a bunch of criteria. 

What is unethical negotiation?

Negotiation as a skill may be a perfectly valid one, and it does have some great implications, but very frequently it makes people engage in some unethical tactics because they’re so focused on the end-goal that they’re prepared to do ANYTHING for it. 

Unethical negotiation refers to the act of engaging in deceitful behavior to get things done your way and your way only. People who engage in unethical negotiations are usually driven by two very significant motifs:

  • The Power Motive – This motive means that the main objective is to demonstrate some type of individual power. So, by throwing in facts, logic, and various arguments, the listener is led to assume that the speaker is conveying accurate and truthful information. Such power motives very frequently lead to falsification, deception, bluffing, selective disclosure, and so on.
  • The Competition Motive – When there’s competition (and especially when competition is the main motive), the negotiator engages in so-called marginally ethical tactics and sees them as appropriate. If both parties are led by this competition motive, then both parties will tend to use these marginally ethical tactics as much as they can.

This, in turn, encourages negotiators to engage in behaviors which simply lack morals and principles such as:

  • exaggerated coercion (you know you need to pull back, but you ignore all the red flags and obvious signs because such behavior fits your agenda);
  • emotional manipulation (when you try to influence the emotional state of the other party on purpose in order to obscure their logical reasoning); 
  • active misrepresentation (when you deliberately try to mislead the other party);
  • collecting confidential information (this is pretty much self-explanatory, as collecting sensitive data can undoubtedly cause a lot of trouble, especially if you end up distributing this information): 
  • revoking an offer (which is generally a problematic step for the affected party). 

Overall, unethical people tend to engage in unethical negotiations. Our negotiation practices reflect our overall approach in life, and if we behave unethically and deceitfully on a daily basis, then it’s more than likely that we won’t have a problem adopting such behaviors during our negotiations. 

Suggestions for Further Reading

In the famous quotes section, we already mentioned we believe in the power of theory, which is why we’ve included a selection of interesting and highly successful books on negotiation. 

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur, salesperson, or a professional negotiator to benefit from these books. All you need is a desire to expand your negotiation horizons, and simply learn new fun ways to use in your daily communication.

As we mentioned, remember that we negotiate all the time, whether we’re fully conscious about it or not. 

So, here are the how-to-negotiate books for those who aren’t scared to embrace their negotiation spirit! 

  1. In Business As in Life, You Don't Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate, by Chester L. Karrass
  2. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury
  3. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz
  4. Getting Past No: Negotiating in Difficult Situations, by William Ury 
  5. Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond, by Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman
  6. 3-D Negotiation: Powerful Tools to Change the Game in Your Most Important Deals, by David Lax and James K. Sebenius
  7. The Negotiation Book: 50 Practical Steps to Becoming a Master Negotiator, by Nicole Soames
  8. Negotiating Life: Secrets for Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making, by Jeswald Salacuse
  9. The Only Negotiating Guide You'll Ever Need, Revised and Updated: 101 Ways to Win Every Time in Any Situation, by Peter B. Stark and Jane Flaherty 
  10. Negotiate It!: How to Crush Your Fears, Develop Your Negotiation Muscle, and Gain Power in the Workplace, by Lynn Price 
  11. Winning Without Intimidation: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion in Today's Real World in Order to Get What You Want, When You Want It, by Bob Burg 

Final Thoughts 

To wrap things up, negotiation is a highly useful skill - it can get you far in life if you use it properly. If not, however, it may even regress you.

If you wish to prevent the latter from happening, join us for our amazing new online negotiation course, where we go deeper into negotiation-based things. What’s more, we also dwell on stuff we haven’t even mentioned here, so you get to learn much more such as:

  • game theory;
  • the Ackerman model of bargaining; 
  • the importance of the word “fair”;
  • asking for help;
  • why pushing hard for a “yes” is a bad idea; 
  • the different types of “yes”
  • getting comfortable with a “no”;
  • assumptions as hypotheses, and so much more!

Are you in?