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Methods of Negotiating with Difficult Colleagues

In a perfect world, everyone at the office would work collaboratively toward a common goal. People would understand their roles and responsibilities, do them without asking, and work cohesively as a team. Unfortunately, no work environment is perfect and there are times when your colleagues might not be pulling their own weight. When this happens, you have the option to take your frustrations to the boss or you can address the issue with your colleague and negotiate ways to get the job done. Negotiating a solution is a practical idea but it can present challenges if your colleague is difficult to work with. Here are a few suggestions for how to negotiate with a difficult colleague. 

Speak Calmly

Losing your temper or getting angry isn’t the best way to get your co-worker to collaborate with you. This is especially true if you are dealing with a difficult personality. You are likely to make the situation much worse if you come to your colleague with frustration and accusations. Rather, calmly approach your colleague and express your concerns. Someone who speaks calmly is seen as being in control and more respectable. 

Seek to Understand their Perspective

In any negotiation, it is important to understand the needs and intentions of the other party. In the case of a colleague, don’t assume that they are being difficult on purpose. Perhaps there is an underlying reason that is motivating their behavior. Ask questions and seek to understand their perspective. Try to uncover the reasons why they might be acting the way they are and seek ways to compromise on a solution. 

Determine What You Want

Before proposing any kind of solution, you need to be aware of exactly what you want. You also need to determine your BATNA (Best alternative to a negotiated agreement). Are you willing to compromise? What concessions are you willing to make? How far can you go before you declare there is no deal? Knowing your BATNA will provide you with the necessary boundaries and limits. 

Be Open to Different Options

The more flexible you are and the more you are willing to consider alternative solutions the higher your chances of successfully negotiating with a difficult colleague. Difficult people want to feel like they are “winning” so if you can reach a win-win solution that is beneficial to both parties, it increases your chances of successfully negotiating through the conflict.

Know When to Take it to a Higher Authority

There are several strategies for negotiating with difficult colleagues but sometimes they are just unwilling to compromise. If you have tried everything else and your colleague is still not receptive, this might be a time to bring it to your manager. Sometimes the only way to get a difficult person to cooperate is by using the top-down approach. Do be careful, however, and only use this approach when absolutely necessary because you don’t want problems with the co-worker to escalate and you don’t want your manager to think you are incapable of handling your own problems. Nonetheless, there are times when this will be the most effective method for negotiating with a difficult person.  

Strategies for Negotiation with Rivals

Any time you enter into a negotiation you seek the most desirable outcome, but the stakes are even higher when you are negotiating with a competitor. No matter what industry you work in, your competitors can turn into fierce rivals and the urge to beat a competitor can be so strong that it inspires unethical behavior. That’s why it is important to be aware of your actions and employ negotiation strategies that are both ethical and effective. Here are a few tips on how to negotiate successfully with a rival. 

Come Prepared

Preparation is perhaps the most important step in any negotiation but is especially important when you are negotiating with a competitor. Your rival is going to come ready to hit you with everything they’ve got so you have to be ready to retaliate. This simply means that you need to do your homework and research everything you can about your rival including what they want from you, why they want it, and where else they can get it. You need to do ample research to better understand the needs of the other side as well as their strengths and weaknesses. 

Bring a New “Partners” Approach

While you may see your counterpart as fierce competition, negotiation is all about strategy and that means it’s time to set aside your ego in order to reach a win-win solution. Instead of looking at the negotiation as a chance for you to finally beat your rival, you need to look at it as doing what’s best for the company as a whole. This means you need to replace the rivalry mentality with a business partners mentality. When you work together and take each other’s needs into account, you reach a solution in which everyone wins. 

Anticipate Compromise

Concessions are a part of any negotiation so you should expect these compromises from the start. Make a list of things you are willing to concede and order them from least important to most important. Never give away your most important concessions first.  You should always start small and save those bigger concessions for ammunition at the end. Likewise, you should never concede anything without getting something in return. 

Leave Your Emotions at the Door

Many negotiations can foster strong negative emotions. This is especially true when the history of both parties involved has been acrimonious. In these instances, it’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us but our emotions can cloud our thinking. Emotions can have a powerful impact on the outcome of the negotiation so it’s critical to negotiate without succumbing to these negative emotions. Be conscious of your feelings during the negotiation and if you feel yourself tensing up, it might be a good time to take a break. You also need to learn how to channel your emotions in a constructive way rather than allowing them to destroy the negotiation process. 

Ways of Creating a Definite Agreement

Every negotiation comes down to one thing…the final agreement. Both parties want to be sure that they are getting what they want in the end. You can spend hours negotiating back and forth but if you can’t settle on a final agreement, all of your hard work has gotten you nowhere. Negotiation can be complicated, especially when you and your counterpart have to sort out all of the contractual details. Here are a few tips and strategies for creating, negotiating, and ultimately signing a definitive agreement. 

Know the Needs of Both Sides

All too often people enter into a negotiation with only their own needs in mind. They have a clear idea of exactly what they want and they are prepared to play hardball in order to get their way. Unfortunately, this does not usually end in a signed agreement. In order for any negotiation to work, it must be fair and well-balanced. A negotiation is not about one party winning, but rather, two parties coming to an agreement that will be mutually beneficial. Thus, it is imperative to spend time researching the wants and needs of your counterpart so you can be prepared to offer solutions that will help both sides reach an agreement. 

Prioritize Your Goals

Just as it is important to understand the needs of your counterpart, you must also have a clear understanding of what is most important to you. Any negotiation will require some give and take, but prioritizing your goals can help you stay on track to get what is most important to you. 

Be Prepared to Make Concessions

Every negotiation involves concessions so spend some time making a list of items you would be willing to concede. This will prevent you from giving something away in the heat of the moment and it will also give you a clear outline of what terms you are willing to negotiate. It is equally important that you never make a concession without getting something in return. 

Write Down Your Agreements

Sometimes negotiations can last hours or even days and it’s easy to forget what both parties agreed upon. That’s why it is so important to make a note of every single detail and concession that has been agreed upon. Before writing up a final agreement, go back through each of these items and make clarifications. There is no room for assumptions in a definite agreement so this is your chance to clarify the details of your agreement. 

Time it Right

When it comes to drawing up an agreement, timing is everything. Rushing a client into signing a deal can make them feel pressured, which in turn can damage your long-term relationship. Waiting too long, on the other hand, gives your counterpart time to make further adjustments or rethink the agreement altogether. Therefore, you want to decide on appropriate timing to wrap up the agreement. 

Why is an Enhanced Office Environment Worth Negotiating

When searching for a job you might find yourself focused on salary and benefits. Although these are certainly important aspects of any career, your work environment is equally important. A positive and creative work environment makes employees happy, motivated, and willing to stick around for the long haul. A healthy environment also contributes to productive and successful employees, so the next time you are negotiating with a potential employer, you might want to consider negotiating for an enhanced office environment. Here are a few things to look for in a work environment.

Good Communication

No matter what department you are in, good communication is essential for fostering a positive work environment. You want to ensure that managers communicate well with employees and employees communicate well with each other. A work environment with strong communication is evident when everyone knows each other’s names, employees and managers are friendly and approachable, and there is a sense of welcoming when someone new joins the team. Good communication leads to happier employees and more productivity. 

Team Morale

You can get a great feel for a company by observing the interactions of the employees. When employees are smiling, friendly, helpful, and collaborating with others, you get a sense that there is strong morale within the team. A workplace that emphasizes team building and provides rewards and recognition for employees will welcome creative and diverse opinions. Employees will work well together and the environment will be a more fun place to work. 

Physical Work Space

The physical environment of a workplace can greatly impact the performance and morale of the employees. An attractive space will create more energy and enthusiasm which in turn will enhance productivity and success. Natural light can significantly impact your mood so windows are important in a workspace. A work environment that is clean and functional will also contribute to better productivity. Finally, an open environment will foster communication and collaboration among employees. 

You will spend roughly 40 hours each week at work so it’s important to work in an environment that is personable, welcoming, positive, and attractive. Your working environment can greatly impact your happiness and can enhance your ability to be successful. Working in a place you enjoy can be worth just as much as any paycheck so it’s worth negotiating an enhanced work environment at your next job. 

Concession Strategies for Successful Negotiators

Every negotiation involves a little bit of give-and-take and that’s why concessions are often a necessary part of negotiations. That said, the process of making concessions is easier said than done. Concede too much too fast and you risk leaving money on the table but concede too little too slow and you risk losing the deal. There are effective and ineffective ways to make concessions so these strategies will help to ensure you are conceding the right way.

Make a List of Concessions Beforehand

Concessions are to be expected in just about any negotiation so it’s important to consider them beforehand. Write down a list of concessions you are willing to make and what you want in return for each concession. You also need to prioritize the list based on what is most important and least important to you.

Demand Reciprocity

You should never make concessions without getting something in return. Otherwise, you risk having your counterpart ask for more even more concessions. Sometimes your counterpart might be slow to reciprocate so you should make things very clear right from the start by saying something like, “I am prepared to do this for you if you do that for me.” Make sure your counterpart knows exactly what your expectations are by stating them clearly.

Start Small

If you make a large concession right off the bat you will lose credibility with your counterpart. You will leave them thinking, “If they are willing to give that up so easily, what else are they willing to give up?” If it comes time to make concessions, concede the least amount necessary to keep the negotiations moving forward.

Label Your Concessions

You can never assume that your actions will speak for themselves. Your counterpart is trying to play the game too, so they will try to ignore and overlook your concessions whenever possible so they can avoid the need to reciprocate. Therefore, it is up to you to label your concessions, so you have made it clear what you are giving up. When you label your concessions, be sure to emphasize how they will be beneficial for the other side.

Keep Track of Your Concessions

Concessions can amp up the complexity of a negotiation and it can be difficult to remember everything that has been agreed upon. Therefore, you need to write down and keep track of every concession between both parties. You can also refer to concessions to remind your counterpart of your willingness to be flexible.

Save Something for the End

Sometimes negotiations come right down to the wire and you want to have enough fuel in your tank to close the deal. If you have already given up all your concessions, you will have nothing left and it can end up costing you all that hard work. Rather, hold on to one last concession and always have that final deal up your sleeve. When the time is right, come in with that last bang so you can wrap up the deal.

Ways to Calm Down in Stressful Negotiations

Negotiation is a fine art and it can be very difficult to stay calm when the stakes are high, but it can be even more of a challenge to stay cool and collected when the conversation gets heated or intense. We have all encountered that time when we got caught in the crossroads between accepting an offer or declining it and things can get intense. Anxiety builds, fear creeps in, and you begin to doubt yourself. Better yet, your emotions get the best of you and you find yourself getting angry and defensive. It’s times like these when you are on the brink of losing the whole deal so it’s important to take a deep breath, stay calm, and avoid panic. Here are a few ways to calm down when negotiations get stressful.

Become Aware of Your Danger Zone

Everyone has a breaking point and if we pay attention to our bodies, we will notice when we begin to reach that point. When we start to feel the stress mounting, our “fight or flight” senses kick in causing a physical reaction. Our face gets hot, our palms get sweaty, and our heart begins racing. As we approach this danger zone we risk losing control of our ability to think rationally so it’s important to react as soon as we begin feeling worked up. It’s time to stop, take a few deep breaths, and allow our body to calm back down.

Focus on Breathing

Taking a few deep breaths can help your body relax and keep it from reaching panic mode. Deep breathing acts as a tranquilizer for the nervous system and can quickly help your body return to a calmer state. If you need to, take a short break from the conversation and step away so you can focus on your breathing. Return to the negotiation when you feel ready.


The best negotiators are the ones who understand the importance of listening. Oftentimes when we feel stressed, we are reacting before we fully understand the scope of the situation. Stop and take some time to listen. Not only will this give you a break from talking, but it will help you to fully understand the needs and wants of your counterpart. Listening will also make the other party feel like they are being hard and sometimes that in itself is enough to deescalate the situation.

Take a Break

There are times in negotiations when it’s just better to stop and take a short reprieve. If you feel yourself tensing up, there’s a good chance your counterpart feels the same way. Nothing good will come if both parties are stressed so this would be a good time to take a short recess and return to the negotiations once everyone has had a chance to relax and collect their thoughts.

Have a Good Sense of Humor

Negotiations are difficult enough and all too often they are rigid and serious. However, it’s important to remember that negotiating is stressful for both parties and that’s why a good sense of humor can really make a difference. Take some of the pressure off by keeping the negotiations lighthearted. Your counterpart will even appreciate it!

Tips for Making a Good Deal

The ability to negotiate effectively in today’s business world can mean the difference between success and failure. It is a critical skill to possess, yet many people feel uncomfortable with the process. The good news is that negotiation is a skill like any other, meaning that anyone can master it through practice. Here are a few tips to help ensure you are closing the best deal possible.

Know Who You’re Negotiating With

No, this doesn’t mean to find out their name and job title. This refers to doing real research to find out what the other side wants and what is motivating them. The more you know about your counterpart, the better you will be able to negotiate with them. This means finding out everything you can about their background, their needs, their fears and concerns, their challenges, and what makes them tick. This means you will have to ask tons of questions upfront and spend some time doing your homework so you can work your negotiation around their needs.

Less Talking, More Listening

Time and time again people enter into a negotiation armed with loads of information about their own service or product and they are just waiting to unleash it the first chance they get. The truth is, however, great negotiators act more like detectives than salesmen. They ask lots of questions and then sit back and listen to the answers. Why? Because the other party will tell you everything you need to know if you just listen. Try following the 70/30 rule- you listen 70% of the time and talk 30%. Ask open-ended questions that will encourage your counterpart to talk. Not only does this arm with you with critical information, but it makes the other party feel like they are being heard.

Be Patient

In a world where we are constantly served immediate satisfaction, being patient is a difficult task. Many negotiators struggle with waiting and they are just eager to get the deal over and done. The problem is, when you rush, you are more likely to make mistakes and leave money on the table. Likewise, it tells your counterpart that you are under pressure to make a deal and they will try to get you to make even further concessions. Whoever is willing to be patient will have the advantage.

Focus on Their Needs, Not Yours

All too often negotiators are so worried about how they are going to make the deal that they begin working against themselves. Rather, focus on the pressures on the other side of the negotiation. It’s your job to seek out these pressures and use them to negotiate a better deal for yourself.

Offer Solutions

Instead of trying to win the negotiation, seek to understand the needs of your counterpart and how you can meet those needs. When the other party feels like you are truly working to find a solution for them, they will be more inclined to try and meet your needs as well.

Don’t Make Concessions without Getting Something in Return

If you are willing to give something away, you must also be getting something in return. Otherwise, you are inviting the other party to ask for more concessions. Also, never give your biggest concessions away first. Start small and save those for hard bargaining if you need to.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for What You Want

The best negotiators are assertive. They know exactly what they want and they aren’t afraid to go for it. They know that everything is negotiable and they challenge everything. The ability to negotiate assertively will set you apart from all other negotiators and help you close the best deal possible.

Ways to Get Ready for a Tough Negotiation

As much as we want negotiations with our customers to be seamless and mutually beneficial, the reality is that not all negotiations are quite so simple. There are times when you might be faced with an extremely difficult negotiator on the other side. If this negotiator is well prepared to employ any tactics necessary to “win” the negotiation and you are not, you will be at the mercy of this manipulative negotiator. Don’t enter into tough negotiations unprepared. Consider these tips for preparing for adversarial negotiations.

Gather Information Before the Negotiation

The best negotiators come armed with information. They understand the wants, needs, and motivations of their counterpart and they use this information to their advantage. If you wait until the negotiation begins to ask questions, you are going to get limited answers and you won’t have time to alter your tactics according to their needs. Rather, ask plenty of questions ahead of time and spend some time gathering pertinent information about your counterpart.

Know What Your Counterpart Values

One must never assume they know what is important to their counterpart. When you make assumptions, you miss opportunities. Rather, ask the right questions and test the waters a little to find out what is most important to the other party. When you understand what they value most, you can work the deal around that.

Build in a Few Concessions

Concessions are a necessary part of any negotiation but even more so when you are dealing with a tough negotiator. These people want to feel like they are in control and they are getting the best deal. When you make concessions, it makes the other party feel powerful and feel like they are getting a little something extra. This strategy can really come in handy during a tough negotiation so spend some time prioritizing your concessions beforehand and build some of these concessions into your negotiation.

Remember to Listen

Oftentimes, tough negotiators just want to feel heard. Give them what they want and make it a point to listen to them. Hear their grievances, listen to their wants, and only speak when you are prepared to offer a solution. The more you listen, the less likely the conversation will get too heated.

Know Your BATNA

BATNA stands for “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.” In other words, this is your plan B. It is important to know this before walking into a tough negotiation because it means you aren’t defeated if your initial negotiation doesn’t go as planned. A strong BATNA makes you more likely to close a solid deal. It is also helpful to learn the other party’s BATNA because you might have to alter yours in order to sweeten the deal.

Determine a Walk-Away Point

Sometimes tough negotiations just can’t seem to be settled and rather than making a decision in the heat of the moment, determine your walk-away point ahead of time. If the terms exceed your expectations, you have to be prepared to walk away and preparing for this in advance will prevent you from making a deal you might later regret.

What You Should Be Willing to Give Up in a Negotiation


Every negotiation involves a little bit of give and take but it is important to know how and when to make concessions. Giving too much too soon can cause you to give up your position and you could end up making a deal that you regret.  On the other hand, not giving up enough can cause you to appear difficult and unwilling to compromise and this can jeopardize the deal as well. What and how you concede is a critical part of any negotiation and can move you closer or further away from a successful result. Here are a few strategies to help you make more effective concessions.

Make a list of concessions and what you want in return.

Before entering a negotiation, you need to spend some time reflecting on what is most important to you. Write down a list of essentials and rank them from “most important” to “least important.” Beside each item you also need to write down how much you think your counterpart values each of your concessions. Concessions are expected in any negotiation, so you need to be prepared to trade some of these less important concessions.

Never make a concession without asking for something in return.

When you make a concession, you need to adopt an “I can do this if you can do that” kind of attitude. Anytime you make a concession your counterpart needs to be aware that it is contingent upon a reciprocal concession of equal value.

Never concede too soon.

Making a large concession right off the bat weakens your credibility and puts you in a compromised position. When you concede quickly your counterpart is left thinking, “If they are willing to give that up so easily, I wonder what else they will give up.” It is always important to concede the least amount necessary to keep the negotiation moving forward. When you make multiple small concessions, it demonstrates flexibility.

Never agree to something you know you cannot deliver.

The pressure to reach an agreement can sometimes be intense and negotiators might end up making a deal that they cannot truly commit to. Failing to deliver on your promise can be detrimental to any future dealings with a customer and will cause you to lose all credibility and tarnish your reputation. Therefore, it is so important to think through each concession and not act on emotion. You must only make concessions that are realistic.

Never give up what is most important to you.

Every good negotiator has a walk-away point. You MUST know your walk-away point before entering any negotiation. While negotiation requires give and take, there might be certain things you just cannot give up and you need to remain firm on that.  All too often negotiators cave and give up concessions that they didn’t want to just for fear of losing the deal. It is important to identify when the deal isn’t worth the concessions and in such cases, you need to be willing to walk away.

The Critical Takeaway from an Important Deal

For a negotiation to succeed, you must have a clear understanding of what you want the outcome to be. If you don’t have clearly defined goals beforehand, you are likely to end up with an undesirable outcome. Entering a negotiation with specific goals and a good understanding of what you want your takeaway to be, puts you in a stronger position.

Set Specific and Measurable Goals

The more specific you are about your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. For example, if you enter into a negotiation with the vague goal of getting your counterpart to lower their prices, a 1% price decrease would technically achieve that goal, but it might not be beneficial enough for your company. Rather, you need to enter the negotiation with a specific goal such as working toward a 5% decrease in price.  Do some research beforehand to come up with goals that are both reasonable and measurable.

Prioritize Your Goals

Many negotiators will have more than one desired goal, but they might not be equivalent in importance. For example, your primary goal might be to reduce costs and other goals might include an extended contract, a different payment option, or increased responsiveness. Prioritizing your goals will give you and your counterpart a better idea of what you can compromise on and it will ensure you take away what is most important from the deal.

Understand Your Opponent’s Goals

Good negotiators focus on more than just their own goals. It is easier for you to find common ground when you can compromise in ways that help your opponent achieve their goals as well. Find out what is important to your opponent and try to come up with a win-win solution whenever possible.

Know Your BATNA

Every negotiator needs to be prepared with an alternative or BATNA. This allows you to work the deal in order to reach some of your desired outcomes. If your BATNA is strong, you can strike a good deal but if your BATNA is poor, you might have to accept some of your lower-priority goals to get the deal done.

Every negotiator needs to have a vision of where they want the negotiation to go and what they want to achieve. By identifying the most critical aspects of the deal, negotiators can focus on what is most important and close a better deal in their favor. Before any negotiation, it is important to write down your specific goals and how you plan to achieve them. This lays out the framework for the entire negotiation and helps ensure your takeaway is worthwhile.