Negotiate Like a Professional

Published: Jan 24, 2019
Modified: Mar 26, 2020

By Brian Tracy

All good managers are excellent negotiators. The manager is usually involved in a continuous process of negotiating conflicting interests and views. All work life is “different strokes for different folks.”

When you are negotiating on your own, or on behalf of your company, there is a process that you can follow to ensure that you get the best deal for yourself and your business.

Follow a Process
First, before you go into a negotiation, take some time to think about what the ideal solution would be for you if this negotiation worked out perfectly.

A person who has thought about the factors or decisions involved has developed alternatives and has a clear idea of what, ideally, should be accomplished has a tremendous advantage over another person who walks into a negotiation without having given it much thought. At least 80 percent of negotiating success is preparation.

There is no such thing as “too much preparation” when you are entering into an important negotiation that involves a lot of money or has large potential consequences for your company. Take the time to think on paper and write out exactly what you want, point for point, before you meet with the other party.

Prepare the Other Side First
Once you are clear about your ideal desired outcome, use the “lawyer’s method of preparation.” Make a list of everything that you think that the other party will want to achieve in this negotiation. Just as lawyers are trained to prepare the case of their opposition before they prepare their own case, you do the same in preparation for the negotiation. Put yourself in their shoes and think through their positions or demands in advance.

Be Easy to Work With
Resolve to be an excellent negotiating partner. The best negotiators are warm, friendly, calm, courteous, and helpful. They treat their negotiation counterparts with respect and politeness. They strive to make the other parties comfortable by getting them a cup of coffee or a glass of water and by positioning themselves as friends in the negotiation.
One of the most powerful factors to ensure that you get the best deal possible in a negotiation is “likability.” The more that the other person likes you, the more open that person is to being influenced by you, even to the point of making concessions to make you happy with the result of the negotiation.

Forget everything you have read or heard about hardball negotiating. It only works in the movies. If you try to be difficult or demanding in a negotiation, there is a very high likelihood that the other party will simply terminate the discussion or walk out. If someone is being difficult with you in a negotiation, resolve to be relaxed and cheerful and wait for the person to settle down.

Strive for a Win-Win Solution
The ideal negotiating result is called a win-win. It’s where both parties feel that they have gotten a good deal in the negotiation. Both parties feel that they have won in some way. Neither party leaves dissatisfied or unhappy with the result of the negotiation.

Remember, the purpose of a business negotiation is to enter into an agreement so that both parties are sufficiently happy with the result that they both carry out their commitments under the negotiation and are open to negotiating with the same party again in the future.

Think Long Term
Personally, I have business relationships that have involved negotiations that go back more than twenty-five years. Because I have always been prepared and fair—seeking a win-win result—over the years I have been able to enter into many millions of dollars’ worth of negotiations with the same parties, and I continue to do business with these parties without tension or stress. This should be your aim as well.

When you begin a negotiation, the first thing you must do is find out exactly what the other person wants and in what order of importance. You then tell the other person what you want in your order of importance.

The Law of Four
Remember the Law of Four in negotiating. This law states that, in any negotiation, there are usually only four main issues to be resolved. There is one major issue and three minor issues. The reason that a negotiation can proceed is that the major issue for each of the parties is different. Each party places a greater emphasis on one of the terms or conditions and a minor emphasis on three others, and they are different from each party.

Be Prepared to Renegotiate
Negotiating terms and conditions with long-term potential consequences is another area that requires “slow thinking” if you want to get the best deal. Remember, too, that no negotiation is ever final. If based on new information or changing circumstances you find that you have made a bad deal (or, likewise, if the other party finds that it has made a bad deal), be prepared to reopen the negotiation and adjust the terms and conditions so that both parties remain happy with the agreement. When both parties are happy with the agreement, and remain happy, they will both work together to make the negotiation successful and to enter into subsequent successful negotiations in the future.

© 2014 Brian Tracy. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Management (The Brian Tracy Success Library), by Brian Tracy. Used with permission of the publisher, AMACOM, a division of American Management Association.

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About the Author(s)

Brian Tracy is a professional speaker, trainer, seminar leader, and consultant, and chairman of Brian Tracy International, a training and consulting company based in Solana Beach, California.