Your opening offer must be as assertive as possible, yet defendable. If your opening offer is too aggressive, your counterpart will doubt your credibility and intentions, losing trust. Yet, you should open assertively to get the best agreement possible.
The question you need to answer: What do you bring to the negotiation that is of particular value to your counterpart? That value is what will allow you to be assertive.
Achieving a win-win outcome is an art and happens when both parties trust each other. This often leads to “out of the box” creative trades, which, when offered must include some concessions.
They are like Sherlock Holmes, searching for the often hidden clues to your counterpart's interests and therefore your leverage. Often, the clues lie in how the counterpart is responding as well as what they are not saying. A master negotiator truly listens and picks up the subtle messages.
Probing is a key negotiation strategy, as it can turn your counterpart’s resistance into cooperation. By asking strategic probing questions, you will influence them to share necessary data and continue making counteroffers.
If you think you must come to agreement no matter what, this will weaken your willingness to negotiate strategically. The time invested in having a Plan B is necessary to ensure you will not negotiate from fear.
Insisting your counterpart shows hard data to defend their offer will usually motivate them to back away from that offer.
“No free gifts” is the name of the negotiation game. Link your concessions to a concession in return.
Western culture is uncomfortable with silence, unlike the East. Yet silence is often a powerful way to get additional information. Silence is often interpreted as 'the offer is challenging, confusing or not possible', which might motivate the other party to offer further concessions and/or helpful information.
Seeking trades that are valuable to your counterpart—that are low cost to you— (or visa versa) is the secret to achieving a true win-win outcome.
It’s impossible to walk away with the best agreement possible unless you are thoroughly informed about all aspects of the negotiation. This includes the interests of everyone the agreement will affect, what has happened in the past and future concerns.
Trust is the cornerstone of every successful negotiation. Also, when both sides discuss and agree on HOW the negotiation process will occur, the negotiation has the best chance of being a huge win for both sides.
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