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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.

How to Win the Essentials in a Challenging Deal

Negotiation is a necessary part of any job. Whether you are negotiating a higher salary, a job promotion, or a deal with a customer, negotiation skills are critical to your success.  However, negotiations don’t always go as planned. No matter how much you prepare for a negotiation, there will be times when your counterpart is more of a challenge than you bargained for. Oftentimes, these tough negotiations are ineffective and take too long. Consider these tips to help you get the most out of a challenging negotiation.

Establish Rapport

People who are energetic, charismatic, and friendly tend to be masters at building rapport. These are the people that everyone seems to like, and they have an easier time negotiating because they are likeable. Not everyone is born with the gift of gab, but anyone can work toward establishing good rapport with others. You can build rapport by evoking sympathy, seeking to understand their needs and position, being open and honest, and being a good listener. All these things will help you to establish and maintain a good rapport with your counterpart. Establishing rapport is the first step in reaching a winning deal.

Ask Questions and Seek to Understand

This is important in any negotiation but is especially true in a challenging one. Tough negotiators often feel like they must defend themselves because they are afraid of getting the short end of the stick. This defensiveness can come across as very abrasive and they might feel the need to play hard ball with you. The best way to break a tough negotiator is to let them know you are there for them and truly care about their needs.  Ask questions to find out as much as you can about what is motivating them. The more you understand their needs, the better you can negotiate a solution that is beneficial to both parties. When a tough negotiator feels like you are listening to them, they are more likely to back down and start making concessions.

Prioritize Your Goals

Every negotiator has goals in mind that they hope to achieve in the negotiation.  However, the reality is that you are not always going to get everything you want. Therefore, it is important to prioritize your goals beforehand so you can be clear about what is most important to you. This allows you to make some smaller concessions if needed in order to gain the most essentials.

Stay Focused

Tough negotiators might try to distract you and divert your attention somewhere else in order to avoid giving you what you want. It is important to stay focused on the essentials and not lose sight of these goals during the negotiation.

Keep the Interests of Both Parties in Mind

If you really want to have a successful negotiation, you need to forget about taking a position and defending it profusely. Rather, put your cards on the table and ask the other party what their needs are as well. Once you understand the interests of both sides you can seek to find a solution that will satisfy both parties.

How to Keep Negotiations Positive and Productive

There are times in negotiations when you might be faced with a difficult negotiator. These types of people prefer to set roadblocks rather than find common ground. In situations like this, the negotiation needs to be approached in a way that promotes mutual benefit and optimum success. You want to have the confidence to ask for what you want while also keeping the negotiation moving forward in a productive way.  Consider these tips for managing difficult negotiators so that you can reach an agreement while remaining positive.

Enter the Negotiation Armed with Information

This is perhaps the most important step in preparing for a negotiation but is also commonly skipped. Many people fail to do their homework prior to a negotiation and therefore begin the process without adequate knowledge. It is vital to gain as much information as possible about your counterpart, so you are familiar with their needs and motivations. Without prior knowledge, too much time is wasted during the negotiation trying to figure out the needs of both parties. To ensure a productive negotiation, arm yourself with as much information as possible.

Try a Different Path

One of the most common reasons that negotiations aren’t productive is because both parties run into a problem that doesn’t have a clear solution. This can bring the entire negotiation to a halt. In order to keep the negotiations moving forward, move the discussion to a different issue. The idea is that you will reach an agreement on some of these smaller issues and when you come back to revisit the “big” issue it won’t seem as daunting the second time around.

Approach the Negotiation with a Win-Win Attitude

All too often negotiators enter a negotiation with a goal in mind and they stick firmly to this goal and fight to the death to defend their position. Unfortunately, this can make for an unproductive negotiation and can end up very tense if you are dealing with a difficult negotiator. Rather than choosing a firm position and refusing to budge, approach the negotiation with a win-win attitude. In other words, your goal should be to find a solution that is mutually beneficial.


It sounds simple enough, but you should never underestimate the power of listening.  One of the best ways to keep your negotiation positive is to show the other side that you truly care about their needs and are willing to listen to their side. Most difficult negotiators are defensive because they simply want to be heard. The ability to listen will serve you well in any negotiation and help the discussion to remain positive.

Don’t Give in to Your Emotions

When negotiations get heated it becomes easy for your emotions to get the best of you.  You might tense up and become combative to yourself. Instead, try to remain calm and stay focused on the issue at hand. When the conversation becomes difficult you can diffuse the situation by offering solutions to keep the discussion moving forward.

Remember to Give and Take

Negotiations are all about compromise and there will come a time when both sides need to make some concessions. Come prepared with a list of concessions that you are willing to make and be prepared to pull these out when the negotiations reach a stalemate. Remember to start with your smallest concessions first and only concede if you are getting something of equal value in return. Concessions can be a great way to keep the negotiations moving forward while also making the other party feel like they are getting something out of the deal.

How to Organize an Agenda for a Difficult Negotiation

How to Organize an Agenda for a Difficult Negotiation

The biggest mistake novice negotiators make is failing to thoroughly prepare.  Preparation is a necessary part of any negotiation but is especially crucial when you know the discussion is going to be difficult.   When you haven’t taken the time to do your research, you are much more likely to leave value on the table. Furthermore, you risk losing credibility when you show up unprepared.  An agenda can help you gather all of the facts and information needed to prepare you position and prepare for the other party’s position. Here are a few things to consider when preparing an agenda for difficult negotiations.

Write down what the other party values.

This step is absolutely critical when preparing for a difficult negotiation.  You already know the other party is going to challenge you, so knowing what they value most allows you to decide how you plan to address those needs.  People are difficult negotiators because they have an end goal in mind and certain needs that have to be met. When you are aware of those needs and can offer solutions, the negotiation will go much smoother.

Write down what matters most to you.

You certainly want to try and address the needs of your counterpart, but you also have to be mindful of what is most important to you and your company.  Knowing what you value most prevents you from conceding on important issues when the conversation gets heated.

Decide on a strategy.

How do you plan on going about this negotiation?  You need to have a clear idea of how you plan to begin the conversation and keep it moving in the right direction.  Otherwise, things could end up way off track when the conversation gets heated. Do you plan on questioning the other party to find out what is motivating them?  Do you plan on offering something in exchange for something else? Are you planning to get an answer today or are you willing to give it a few days? You must have an idea of you strategy before you walk into the meeting.

Prepare questions you want to ask.

It can be helpful to jot down some questions that you want to ask the other party.  For example: What do they hope to achieve? When do they need to make a decision? What other options are they considering? What would prohibit them from making a decision?  Is this person the actual decision maker? It’s easy to get off track and lose our train of thought when discussions are difficult, so writing down them down can help you remember what to ask.

Prepare for the challenge.

If you already have a feeling that the negotiation isn’t going to be easy, you need to be prepared to handle different scenarios.  Think of the different possible outcomes of the negotiation and how you will react to each one of them. Preparing ahead of time will make you more confident in how to handle the challenge.

Build in a few concessions.

Difficult negotiators want to feel like they are getting the better end of the deal so you need to prepare a few concessions in advance.  What things are you willing to concede or give away to sweeten the deal? While you don’t come right out and offer these things, you have them in your back pocket to diffuse the situation and appease the other party if needed.

Determine your walk-away point.

Difficult negotiators can be stubborn and this can leave you with no choice but to walk away.  Determine your walk-away point prior to the negotiation so you know when to call things off. It’s easy to feel pressured to concede when you are dealing with difficult people but knowing your walk-away point gives you a clear idea of what you can and cannot accept.

10 Words and Phrases to Include During Negotiations

10 Words and Phrases to Include During Negotiations

You have probably put some thought into which words and phrases to avoid using in negotiations so you don’t sabotage the deal, but have you ever thought about what you should say to help seal the deal?  Not every deal will be smooth and easy to close, but knowing what to say can help move things along.  Here are a few words and phrases you should consider if you want to succeed in your next negotiation.

“Before we begin, let’s take a look at the main points on the agenda.”

The way you begin the conversation is so important because it sets the tone for the entire negotiation.  The agenda is a great place to start because it consists of all the important points that need to be addressed during the discussion.  Beginning with a phrase like this is both polite and efficient and it lets the other party know that you want to cover all of their questions and concerns.

“How do you feel about…?”

Listening is sometimes more important than speaking in a negotiation.  You want the other party to know that are interested in what they have to say and you are genuinely concerned about their needs.  Your counterpart will appreciate your willingness to listen and hear them out.

“We recommend that…”

There are inevitable going to be times during the negotiation where both parties don’t see eye to eye but someone has to be able to come up with a solution.  It is important to propose a solution in a way that encourages the other party to consider your perspective. This will make for a more effective discussion.

“I am basing my recommendation on this…”

Just as important as it is to offer solutions, it is equally important to be able to back them up.  Be prepared to explain why your solution makes sense and explain how it will benefit the other party.

“I agree with your suggestion.”

Negotiation is about building a trusting relationship with your counterpart and these words help to validate their opinion.  Rather than always disagreeing and turning the discussion into an argument, find points that you do agree with and make sure to express that.

“Let’s consider this alternative”

Whenever your negotiation reaches a deadlock or your counterpart makes a proposal that you simply cannot agree to, your best bet is to propel the conversation forward by offering another alternative.  In a sense you are still able to avoid conceding on the issue, but you are doing so by offering another plausible solution.

“I have some reservations about that.”

Disagreeing in a negotiation is one of the most difficult things to do because the way you do it can impact the entire negotiation.  You don’t want to offend your counterpart with a staunch “no” but you do need to make it clear that you are not on the same page. You can politely disagree with a phrase like this and let this phrase lead into your concerns.  

“We might be able to work on…if you could…”

Negotiation is all about compromise and there are plenty of times when you will have to be willing to meet your counterpart halfway.  This is a great way to explain that you are willing to make some concessions in exchange for others.

“Let me make sure I understand.”

If your counterpart is being vague about something, it is important that you have full clarity so you can make the best decision.  Likewise, it’s always a good idea to repeat back to them what you have heard to let them know that you are listening. You want to avoid letting the discussion head in the wrong direction.

“Let’s sum this up to make sure we are on the same page.”

Before the negotiation is over it is always a good idea to recap everything that has been discussed. This ensures that both parties are clear about the agreement and eliminates any gray area that might otherwise be present.

10 Words and Phrases to Avoid Using During Negotiations

10 Words and Phrases to Avoid Using During Negotiations

Learning the art of negotiation is tricky and it can be challenging at times because if you say one wrong thing it can sabotage the entire negotiation.  Great negotiators know how important it is to choose your words carefully because one wrong move can leave you dead in the water. Don’t jeopardize your chances of getting what you want or lose you buyer by saying the wrong thing.  Here are 10 words and phrases you should never say in a negotiation.

“I’ll be honest.”

Many people choose this phrase because they think it appears as though they as passing along some type of confidential information.  In reality, it sounds as though everything you have said up to that point has been a lie. Your best bet is to simply make your statement without the preface.  Your information should be accurate anyway, so there is no reason to lead with this phrase.

“You won’t find a better product on the market.”

All too often sales reps lead with this type of statement but it’s difficult for customers to take this claim seriously because the reality is that there are other products out there that are just as good as yours. You will instantly lose credibility if you make this claim during a negotiation.  Instead, focus on the unique strengths of your product and what sets it apart from others.

“I’m sorry.”

These are perhaps the two biggest danger words in a negotiation because nothing signals weakness as much as saying you’re sorry.  Negotiators often apologize for things that are beyond their control but you risk looking someone who will easily back down the moment you utter these words.

“The least I’d be willing to take is…”

Negotiations are a lot like a game of poker and you never reveal your hand right away.  If you mention these words there’s a good chance that you will only be offered that amount.  You gave up your opportunity to gain more.

“I will give you X but only if you sign by this date.”

It may seem like you are gaining leverage with time-pressure but you are actually putting an unnecessary burden on the buyer.  No one should feel pressured into buying something and even if they agree you have probably just cut all future ties with that client.

“I need this deal.”

It might seem like a good way to convince buyers to purchase your product or even bosses to increase your salary, but the reality is your counterpart isn’t concerned with your needs; they are focused on their own.   Mentioning how much you need the deal makes you come across as desperate and self-seeking rather than someone who truly cares about the other party.


Even if you can’t agree to the deal, a staunch “no” makes it difficult to get the conversation back on track and the other party will feel like they can’t make any future requests.  Instead, use softer language by saying something like “I understand what you are saying, but unfortunately that will not be possible.” You can also use this as an opportunity to make some concessions to show that you are willing to give a little to get a little.

“I don’t usually do this, but…”

We can all expect a good deal from a long-time friend or family member, but the average buyer will see right through this phrase.  It makes you appear a bit dishonest because you come across like you are breaking some rule. Furthermore, the buyer doesn’t want to feel like they owe you in some way.  Your job is to make them feel like you have found a solution for them. If you really are offering some unusual deal just be straight up about by saying something like, “Our normal contract is for 60 days but we can reduce it to 30 since you are a new client.”

“I want”

These words can hinder salary negotiations right from the start and make you look greedy.  Instead of coming right out with a list of things you want, show your boss what you bring to the table and how your skills benefit the company.  You have to prove your worth…not ask for it.

“That’s not fair.”

Aside from sounding childish, this statement makes you sound like you don’t understand how business works.  Even if you don’t agree with what they are proposing, it’s much better to come back with a different proposal as opposed to saying “that’s not fair.”

How to Cool Down When Negotiations Heat Up

How to Cool Down When Negotiations Heat Up

Negotiations can be tricky and sometimes they even become emotional.  If you’ve ever encountered a difficult negotiation than you probably know that you risk blowing the entire negotiation if the conversation gets too heated.  Although it’s easy to become reactive and feel the urge to “fight back,” it is important to learn how to diffuse the situation before it intensifies. If you walk away just to save face, than you have let the negotiation slip through your fingers and nobody benefits.  When a negotiation becomes heated, consider these tips to diffuse it.

Be Aware of Your Physical Reaction

The first step in cooling down is recognizing when you start tensing up.  If you feel your emotions beginning to rise and your body becomes tense than it’s time to take a deep breath and focus on calming yourself back down.  Place your hands and feet on the floor as this will help you to remain calm and focused. Sit up straight and focus on breathing deeply. These deliberate actions send messages to your brain to calm down.

Listen to Your Counterpart

The biggest mistake people make when conversations get heated is that they begin thinking about how they are going to respond rather than listening to what the other person is saying.  It’s our natural defense mechanism and we immediately want to defend ourselves. However, every time you react to a behavior, it simply elicits another negative behavior from your counterpart.  After your counterpart yells or bangs on the table, simply sit back quietly and let them vent rather than immediately responding with another outburst. If you can avoid an immediate reaction and focus on listening, it will help to calm the other person down as well.

Genuinely Empathize with Your Counterpart

In any negotiation it’s important to respect your counterpart’s perspective.  While it’s acceptable to disagree, it’s also important to try and understand your counterpart’s point of view.  If the other negotiator is angry or frustrated about something, listen to them and genuinely empathize with them.  You want to let them know that you understand and appreciate their perspective. This is also a good time to remind them that you want to reach an agreement that is beneficial for them and you are committed to finding a solution.

Talk in Soothing Tones

Oftentimes it happens subconsciously, but when we begin to feel frustrated our tone of voice begins to change.  We begin to speak louder and more aggressively and this can cause the other negotiator to react in the same manner.  You can diffuse the situation by paying close attention to the tone of voice and your body language. Talk in soothing conciliatory tones and make it a point to nod in agreement to show that you are listening to their perspective.

Stay Positive and Hopeful

Typically when negotiations become heated it’s because one person feels like they are getting the short end of the stick. When you stay positive and offer hope for a solution, it helps to alleviate the other negotiator’s concerns and can calm the situation.

Consider the Circumstances

Many things can affect the negotiation such as timing, fatigue, and personal circumstances.  Fatigue can impair one’s ability to make good decisions so you need to recognize when the negotiation is moving too far into the evening hours or has gone on for too long.  Taking a short break can offer some reprieve and can allow both parties to revisit the negotiation with fresh perspective.

The Importance of Setting Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

The Importance of Setting Long-Term and Short-Term Goals

If we don’t think about it, it’s easy for us to pass through days, weeks, or months without considering where we want to be or what we want to achieve.  Goals give us a sense of purpose and something which to work toward. They help us to stay on track and make the fruits of our labor more fulfilling. In terms of work, goals give us something to focus on and help us to pursue our professional endeavors.  However, in order to fully achieve these goals, it is important for goal setters to define both their short term and long term goals. Success is a marathon, not a sprint, and it takes the combination of both short term and long term goals to truly reach success.  

Importance of Short-Term Goals

It’s one thing to set long-term goals but we must remember that in order to get there we must first accomplish several smaller goals.  We can’t neglect all of the work that it takes to reach our long-term goals and that’s why short-term goals are so important. Short-term goals act like a guide for getting you further on the path toward your long-term goals.  They remind you of what steps you need to take to get there. In addition, short-term goals give us something to focus on in the near future. Otherwise, we can get begin to get frustrated and lose sight of where we are headed.  When you set smaller goals that can be reached in the near future, it gives you a boost of confidence each time you achieve them. This confidence helps to propel you forward so you continue to work toward your long-term goals.

Importance of Long-Term Goals

Long-term goals are necessary for self-improvement.  They give us something to strive for and help keep us focused on where we want to be.  Long-term goals help us shape the direction of our lives and careers. For example, you might have a long-term goal of becoming a manager or director.  This long-term goal gives you something to constantly keep working towards and it reminds you of how all of the hard work you have put into achieving your short-term goals will finally pay off.

Combining Your Goals

It may take years to accomplish a long-term goal so setting and achieving short-term goals along the way will remind you to be persistent.  Everyone has a different path to success, but those who can set clearly defined short-term goals and continuously achieve them will have the stamina to remain on course to achieve their long-term goals.  It is important to make a list of all of your long-term goals and write them down. Underneath each one you should write down the steps that it will take to get there. These are your short-term goals. Stick to your plan and work toward your long-term goal one step at a time.  Each time you accomplish a short-term goal you are one step closer to achieving your dream.

How to Stay Positive during Tense Negotiations

It’s not easy to stay calm and positive when things get heated in a meeting or a difficult conversation and things can get especially tense during a negotiation.  We have all experienced this at one time or another. We might end up saying something that we later regret or making concessions just to get out of the situation.  It can be difficult to remain positive when you strongly disagree with the other party, but failure to do so will likely leave you wishing for a reset button. With so much at stake, it’s important to “keep calm and negotiate on.”  Here are a few tips for how you can keep your cool even in the most difficult negotiations.

Control Your Emotions

When you are in the midst of a tense negotiation it is easy to let you your emotions get the best of you.  However, your emotions can influence your behavior and can cause you to strengthen or damage the relationship with your counterpart.  While you might disagree strongly with the other side or feel angry about their requests, you have to maintain your composure in order to think rationally and act strategically.  Take a deep breath and remember to stay in control of your emotions.

Stay Focused on the Solution

Tough negotiators can use aggressive tactics to try and manipulate and control the negotiation.  As soon as you start feeling yourself begin to tense up, remember to shift your focus to the solution.  Allow the other party to speak but do not respond to aggression with aggression. Rather, let them know that you hear what they are saying and then politely shift the focus back to the solution.  When you stay focused on providing a solution and refuse to give in to their tactics, you will be able to remain positive and calm throughout the negotiation.

Come Prepared

The preparation you do before the negotiation can have a huge impact on your ability to remain calm and composed.  Gather as much information as you can prior to the negotiation. Find out what the other party values most, what problems they are having, and what solutions you can provide.  Aggressive negotiators are still there for one reason: to find a solution. If you are familiar with their needs and come prepared with solutions, you are less likely to crumble under the pressure of a tense negotiation.  


Oftentimes, aggressive negotiators get defensive because they want to feel heard.  They want to know that you are listening to them and are hearing their needs. So, give them what they want.  Your most powerful tool is your ability to listen. If you actively listen to your counterpart, it will make them feel respected and “in control” of the situation.  This will also allow you to maintain your composure and keep the conversation moving in a positive direction.

Be Polite

As much as you may want to shout at the other person, it is important to remain polite throughout tense negotiations.  If you stay calm, it will help to diffuse the situation and calm the other person down as well. Furthermore, your ability to be polite amidst tense conversation will help you earn the respect of your counterpart and help the negotiation to remain positive.