Negotiation is a key skill for success in business and life. Whether striking a deal with a client, raising your salary, or making a complex business partnership, strong negotiators aim high, stand up for their needs, and look for win-win outcomes. Here are some effective negotiation strategies:
Do your homework. The more you know about the issue and the other parties involved, the stronger your position. Gather information about their priorities, constraints, and bargaining range. Know your own parameters as well, and any alternatives you may have. Preparation builds confidence.
Focus on interests, not positions. Instead of rigidly sticking to extremes, explore the underlying interests and priorities on both sides. Look for areas of compatibility and common ground. Be open-minded about options that meet multiple interests.
Ask more than you expect to get. Do some research to determine an ambitious yet reasonable target. High opening offers, called “anchor points,” shift the range of possible outcomes in your favor. Be willing to compromise from there.
Highlight your alternatives. If negotiations reach an impasse, explore your best alternative options to an agreement—your BATNA. Outline the pros and cons to demonstrate you are willing to walk away and pursue other options. This approach brings more power and leverage to the negotiation.
Provide objective criteria. Rather than compromising based on pressure or manipulation, refer to evidence-based standards and criteria. These could include facts, expert opinions, statistics, norms, or fair market value. Criteria help take the negotiation from the realm of the personal to the practical.
Ask open-ended questions. Ask questions to make sure you understand the other party’s perspective and priorities fully. Questions also make the other side explain and defend their positions. Respond to their questions with questions to avoid being backed into a corner.
Focus on building trust. A perceived lack of integrity or trustworthiness on either side makes any agreement unstable. Be transparent, acknowledge their concerns, and follow through on any commitments. Apologize for any mistakes. Finding common ground and rapport leads to better deals.
Negotiation is challenging but following these strategies can lead to better outcomes. With patience, creativity, and win-win mindset, obstacles turn into opportunities and adversaries turn into allies. Successful negotiations should leave both sides feeling satisfied, respected, and able to build an ongoing relationship of mutual benefit. Achieving that result is the art of negotiation.