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.