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Recommendations for Effective Negotiations with Competitors

Competition can be a good thing in the business world but more can be accomplished through collaboration. Oftentimes organizations get so wrapped up in beating out their competitors that they overlook the possibility of working with them. Sometimes there can be substantial benefits of negotiating with competitors and there can be ways to cooperate and compete at the same time. Here are a few great strategies for effectively negotiating with a competitor. 

Arm Yourself with Information

You need to learn as much as you can about your counterpart in order to prepare for the negotiation. You need to know their strengths, weaknesses, needs, wants, and what motivates them. They are going to come prepared for tough bargaining so the more you know about what is motivating them the better off you’ll be. The more you know about your competitors, the more leverage you will be able to bring to the table. 

Consider Teaming Up

When we think about our competitors we typically think about working against them but what would happen if you worked together? Great things can happen when competitors decide to collaborate to develop something new. Instead of focusing on your competitor, realign your focus to the customer and think about how you and your competitor could come together to better serve your customers.  Organizations can find ways innovative ways to collaborate while still competing. These partnerships could end up leading to greater profitability for your organization. 

Understand Your Goals and Theirs

One of the most powerful strategies you can employ with a competitor is the ability to listen well. Ask open-ended questions and seek to understand the other party’s goals. Similarly, you want to make your goals known so they understand what is most important to you. When you seek to understand the needs of the other party, you build trust and rapport. This means your competitor is more likely to work alongside you rather than feeling defensive. When you are familiar with your goals and those of your counterpart, you can work collaboratively to create a mutually beneficial solution. 

Prepare Multiple Avenues

The best negotiators come prepared with more than one strategy. Rather than following one path and sticking to it, they understand that there might be multiple paths that lead you to the same results. Be flexible and offer more than one solution to the problem and give your competitors a chance to choose the path that best suits their needs. When you offer this kind of flexibility, it gives you multiple avenues for reaching your goal and also makes your counterpart feel like they’ve won. 

How to Reach an Agreement with Noncooperative Coworkers

In every workplace, there will be difficult people. Dealing with difficult coworkers can be frustrating and challenging to say the least. These might be the people who show up late, don’t turn their work in on time, or refuse to collaborate with others. We might find ourselves in a situation where we get so worked up and bothered over these situations that it begins to affect our own performance and morale. Rather than allowing yourself to get caught up in the frustration, equip yourself with the means to deal with noncooperative coworkers. 

Seek to Understand the Person’s Intentions

It’s best to assume the other person isn’t being difficult for the sake of being difficult. Rather, there is probably some underlying reason that is motivating them to act that way. Try to find out exactly what is triggering their assertiveness and try to think of ways to meet their needs so you can resolve the situation. You can do this by leading with phrases such as “for my own clarification…” and “I’m curious about…”. These phrases suggest that you are sincerely interested in their point of view and it can make the other person less defensive. 

Share Your Own Point of View

It can be helpful when you let the other person know your intentions as well. When you are seeking to reach an agreement with someone, it’s important that both sides understand each other’s needs. When you let them know the reasoning behind your actions it can enable them to empathize with your situation. 

Always Be Polite and Respectful

It can be easy to get angry and lash out when we are frustrated with a difficult coworker. However, no one likes being treated that way and being combative will only cause the other person to raise their defenses. If you want to make progress with a difficult coworker, you must remember to always treat them with respect. This can help to build a rapport with your coworker so future discussions can be more successful. 

Seek a Mutually Benefiting Solution

Oftentimes difficult people act the way they do because they feel threatened. When you remove the threat, you will usually find that they aren’t so bad underneath. You can do this by demonstrating a sincere interest in the other person’s needs and really working to find a way to meet those needs. Rather than simply trying to prove a point, seek a solution that will benefit both you and your coworkers. This will make them feel like you respect their feelings and they will be more likely to reach an agreement. You can offer to do your part by using phrases like “What can I do to help?” or “What would you like to see happen?”. They will usually be happy to provide you with an answer and the conversation will generally move in a positive direction.

Steps for Tough Negotiation Preparation

Has there ever been a time when you left a negotiation feeling completely defeated? Even great negotiators are going to meet their match from time to time, and if not properly prepared, will find themselves feeling battered and bruised from a tough negotiation. The fact is, your charm and wit will only take you so far when you’re up against a tough negotiator. Therefore, it’s important to practice ahead of time and come to these tough negotiations fully prepared to tackle your counterpart head-on. 

Gather Information Ahead of Time

The goal of any negotiation is to find a win-win solution for both parties. You can only do this by gaining a clear understanding of the other parties’ needs and what is motivating them. This means you need to do some homework ahead of time and gather as much information as possible. If you wait until the negotiation to ask questions, you risk getting intentionally limited answers. People often withhold information during a negotiation to avoid looking weak or desperate. Therefore, it’s up to you to ask these important questions ahead of time in a non-threatening atmosphere. 

Know What the Other Party Values

As stated before, you need to gather pertinent information about your counterpart. It is absolutely critical to find out what the other party values so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. You can’t assume you know what their priorities are because they may have changed since the last meeting. Ask the right questions and be prepared to make an offer they can’t refuse. 

Know What Matters Most to You

While it’s important to gather information about your counterpart, you don’t want to lose sight of your own goals. Prior to the negotiation, do some research and find out what is most important to you and your organization. When you know what the terms need to be, you will be in a better position to make a move and find a solution that meets your needs. 

Plan for Concessions

You should come to any negotiation prepared to make a few concessions. However, you need to prepare for these concessions ahead of time. Make a list of a few concessions you are willing to make and what you would expect in return. Then, prioritize these concessions so you know where to build them into your negotiation plan. Start with those things that are least important to you and look for ways to make these things appear more valuable to your counterpart. 

Know How to Manage Urgency

Time pressure can be your worst enemy in a negotiation because it can lead you to make overly generous concessions just to close the deal. Your counterpart knows this and might be prepared to use this urgency strategy against you. Be prepared to manage time pressure by attaching terms to the deadline, such as a percentage increase. This keeps you from caving under the pressure. 

Determine Your Walk-Away Point

Plan ahead and have a clear idea of what your limits are so you aren’t forced to make this decision in the heat of the moment. Set parameters ahead of time and stick to them so you know exactly when to end the negotiation if you need to. Every negotiator needs to have a walk-away point in mind because there are times when an agreement simply cannot be reached. 

How to Effectively Concede During Discussions

Every negotiation requires to give and take and concessions are a part of doing business. However, there are effective and ineffective ways of conceding. How you concede can have a huge impact on the outcome of the negotiation so it’s important to make thoughtful considerations before making concessions. As you prepare for your next negotiation, consider these tips for conceding effectively. 

Make a List

Concessions are an essential part of any negotiation so you need to plan for them before you sit down with your counterpart. Write down a list of concessions you are willing to make and what you want in return for each one. Be sure and prioritize this list based on what is most important and least important to you. It is also necessary to consider how important each concession is to your counterpart. Prioritizing the list is a crucial step because you don’t want to give away your most valuable concessions first. 

Build Concessions into your Negotiation Plan

Remember that your counterpart has an emotional need to feel like they have “won” the negotiation by beating down your price, pushing for earlier delivery, or extending the warranty. Knowing how much importance the customer places on each item can influence your negotiation plan and help you to decide which concessions to build into your plan. Make sure to allow for bargaining room on the topics that are most important to your counterpart. 

Concede Reluctantly

The concession must appear to have value for it to be worth anything for your counterpart. You must make the other party feel like they have secured a victory when you make a concession. For example, you might be able to offer earlier delivery without any hassle but if you simply respond with, “No problem” to their request than that concession has very little perceived value. Your goal should be to make a low-value concession appear as a high-value win for your counterpart. 

Never Give Anything Without Asking for Something in Return

You never want to make a concession without asking for something of equal value in return. Your counterpart should understand that any concession you offer is contingent upon a reciprocal concession of equal value. The “tit for tat” strategy helps to build a trusting relationship because both parties demonstrate a willingness to give and take. 

Timing is Everything

When you concede is just as important as what you concede. You never want to offer a concession on the first major point. When you make concessions right out of the gate it will be perceived as a sign of weakness and your counterpart might start making demands to see how much they can get. Remember to concede slowly because those that happen quickly don’t feel like valuable concessions. You also want to save a little something for the very end to help you close the deal. 

Techniques for Building Win-Win Agreements

Many people look at negotiations through the wrong lens. They see negotiation as a discussion that results with one person being the winner and the other person being the loser. They assume an agreement has only been reached because one person played hardball to get what they wanted, which in turn soured the working relationship for all parties involved. The reality is that negotiations do not have to be this way at all. In fact, the most successful negotiators do not enter into a negotiation looking to “win.” Rather, they seek to find a mutually acceptable outcome that leaves both parties happy and strengthens the working relationship. This is known as a win-win negotiation and this type of negotiation is successful because it encourages the cooperation of both parties toward a common goal. Here are a few techniques for getting to “yes” with a win-win agreement. 

Focus on the Problem

In a traditional bargaining scenario, the interaction is based on positions and counter-positions. This type of negotiation commonly causes tension as one side argues over the price or your unwillingness to concede certain conditions. It can feel like two people are sitting on opposite sides of the table playing tug-of-war until one party finally concedes. With a win-win approach, however, the idea is to focus on the problem and work collaboratively to come up with a solution. By focusing on the problem, both parties can have a productive discussion and come up with ways to solve the problem that will be mutually beneficial to both parties. 

Identify Their Interests 

In a traditional bargaining scenario, people tend to take a firm stance and stick to that position. The negotiation is all about “what I want.” In a win-win scenario, the focus shifts to the interests of the other party. If you can identify why they want what they want, you can explore different options to help them get there. Therefore, it’s important to ask plenty of questions and identify what is motivating them. When you have their interests in mind, it allows you to create a smooth path to an agreement. 

Invent New Options for Mutual Gain

The secret to a win-win agreement is exploring and creating new options that will be mutually beneficial. Think about every possible solution for the problem and be receptive to new suggestions. Instead of limiting yourself to just one solution (I will only sell the package for this price), consider new solutions that will benefit both parties. For example, “I will sell the package at my price but I will include a few extra features for your benefit at no cost.” By expanding the number of solutions, you increase the chances of coming up with an agreement that is suitable to both parties. 

Know Your BATNA

Your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is your plan B or your backup plan. It is important to have a clearly defined BATNA because there will be times when you just can’t get everything you want. In these instances, your BATNA is your most attractive alternative. You have considered it carefully ahead of time and it’s an agreement that is acceptable to you. Having a prepared BATNA allows you to negotiate from a position of strength and still walk away with a win-win outcome. 

Considerations to Take When Closing a Deal

You have spent countless hours preparing for your negotiation and the time has come to meet with your counterpart. As the negotiation moves forward in the right direction, you get a sense that you are close to closing this deal. While it can be exciting to close a deal and you might feel eager to get the deal done, the reality is that you need to step back and really take some things into consideration before finalizing the deal. If you become an eager beaver you could potentially leave money on the table or you might end up making a deal that you later regret. Rather, slow things down just a bit and take a few minutes to look over the deal and really think about all of the elements. Here are a few things you should consider before signing on the dotted line. 

Did You Meet Your Goal?

When you enter into a negotiation you should have more than just a goal to negotiate. You need to have something in mind that you are working towards and willing to settle on. For example, if you are buying a car your only goal should not be to talk the salesman down on the price. You need to have a specific goal in mind, such as “I’m only willing to pay X amount for this car.” Having a goal will give you direction for the course of your negotiation. It will also give you a point of reference when it comes time to close the deal. Does this deal meet your goal? This is something to consider before closing the deal. 

Can I Live with My Concessions?

Every negotiation requires to give and take and concessions are a necessary part of the negotiation, but you want to revisit your concessions to be sure they are reasonable. In the midst of negotiation, it can be easy to make concessions just to keep the deal moving forward but it’s important not to concede too much. As you begin wrapping up the deal it’s important to look back at your concessions to be sure they are something you can live with. This is your last chance to make any changes to the deal so you will want to take these into consideration before signing. 

Does This Timeline Work for You?

Closing the deal is important but not if it puts you in a serious time constraint. Again, in the midst of a big negotiation, it can be tempting to agree to terms just to get the deal done. However, these terms might not always be realistic. For example, if you agree to get work done much sooner than you know is actually possible, you will want to revisit this timeline before closing the deal. Perhaps you can make a few other concessions to sweeten the deal, but agreeing to a timeline that you know is unrealistic will only put an enormous amount of pressure on you and might end up angering others at your company. Before making the deal official, consider the timeline for your negotiation and make sure it is reasonable. 

How to Make Tense Discussions Less Stressful

Perhaps you are negotiating with someone with a difficult personality or you are dealing with an angry customer. It might even be that you are trying to calm down team members who are getting frustrated with other members of their team. How do leaders maintain morale and prevent situations from totally collapsing when faced with such tension? Although it’s not always easy, great leaders understand the importance of de-escalating the situation in order to get everyone back on track. When discussions become heated, reduce the stress with these helpful communication tips. 


It sounds simple enough, but listening is the single most important thing you can do when discussions become tense. Oftentimes, people become angry or frustrated because they want to be heard. When you stop and listen, you are indicating that you care about the other person’s feelings and you understand what they are going through. Validate their feelings and let them know that you hear what they are saying. It might surprise you to see that the discussion immediately becomes less tense when the other person feels like they can speak and you are listening. 

Control Your Emotions

When discussions become tense, it is all too easy to let your emotions take over. We immediately feel the need to defend ourselves and our point and we might even become angry or offended by the other party’s comments. However, becoming emotional does nothing but hinder the relationship with your counterpart. Regardless of whether or not you agree with what they are saying, it’s important to stay positive and maintain control of your emotions. 

Offer Solutions

One of the best ways to diffuse a tense discussion is by offering a plausible solution. Strategize with the other team members or your counterpart about what can be done to solve the problem and demonstrate your level of commitment to coming up with a solution. Make sure they know that you are working toward a win-win solution and not just a solution that is beneficial to you. Keeping your eyes on the end goal will keep the conversation moving in the right direction. 

Treat Them with Respect

It’s easy to get flustered or upset when you are confronted with an angry person. However, if you do not know how to respond, you could end up making the situation much worse. The best thing you can do when a conversation becomes tense is to stay calm and react in a courteous way. Avoid defensiveness, as this is likely to make the other person feel even angrier. Rather, let them express their feelings while you listen attentively and then calmly and politely ask what can be done to make things right. By remaining calm and polite, it will help to calm the other person down as well so you can begin moving forward toward a solution. 

Advantages of Improving Negotiation Skills

There is no question that negotiation skills are an important asset in the business world. In today’s ultra-competitive workplace, the ability to negotiate effectively is highly valued and can be the catalyst for promotions and salary increases. While dedication and hard work are certainly key ingredients to getting ahead in the workplace, the ability to capitalize on opportunities and negotiate your future career success will also help to propel you forward. Because we are all part of a highly competitive and ever-changing workforce, the ability to negotiate will provide you with some incredible advantages.

You Can Successfully Negotiate Salary and Employment Contract

The ability to negotiate effectively really comes in hand when you are negotiating salary or the terms of a new employment contract. Challenging a contract can seem risky and nerve-wracking to many, but most of the time businesses have room for flexibility. You could end up leaving money on the table if you avoid negotiating your contract. Improving your negotiation skills will help you become more comfortable in these types of situations so you can get the most out of your contract be it a higher salary, extra perks, or better benefits. 

You Can Get the Best Deal for Your Business

Many jobs will require you to speak to clients, contractors, agencies, or suppliers to complete projects. When you have strong negotiation skills, you will be able to work better deals that are more lucrative for your company. Managers and business owners take note of employees who are successful negotiators and this can help you to further advance your career.

You Will Build Better Relationships with Colleagues

Negotiations don’t always occur between a customer and a supplier. Many negotiations occur on a daily basis with your colleagues. There will be times when you don’t see eye to eye with someone at work and it will be important to settle your differences in a professional manner. Improving your negotiation skills will help you to remain calm under pressure in order to work through issues with colleagues. Not only will this improve your relationships with your colleagues, but managers appreciate employees who know how to work well with others. 

You Will Climb the Corporate Ladder

The ability to negotiate successfully is a rare quality so employers are quick to take notice of employees are strong negotiators and communicators. By improving your negotiation skills, you are improving your chances of climbing the corporate ladder. You are more likely to be chosen for bigger projects and to handle relationships with bigger clients. Bigger responsibilities usually mean bigger job opportunities. 

You Can Negotiate a Promotion

If you are ambitious and want to grow with your company, negotiating can help you to take that next step. Spending time improving your negotiation skills will give you an edge when it comes time to put in for that promotion. When you can negotiate well, you will be able to pitch your skills, successful projects, and commitment to the company in a way that helps you gain the attention of your manager. 

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.