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Art of the deal? How to come up trumps in negotiations


By William Montgomery, leadership development consultant and founder of TEN

We negotiate when we have something to offer, when we want something under different terms than are being offered, when we have to resolve an issue or conflict, and when we need to create a mutually beneficial agreement between two or more parties.

Today, the need for effective negotiation skills is greater than it has ever been, primarily due to technology and the internet.

Today’s prospects, customers and business partners are more educated and prepared, have access to information right away and have more alternatives available.

In response, negotiators must be equally informed and prepared, respect the other party’s interests and be ready to provide ‘win-win’ solutions to remain competitive. A proven negotiation process helps people to know where they are going, and to plan for successful results.

Win-win negotiations consider the interests, needs, desires and concerns of the bargaining partners. The ‘plan, do, check, act’, or PDCA, cycle can help you to effectively conduct such negotiations. 


Define and agree on the issue at hand. Be simple and specific; if the situation is multifaceted, isolate one issue at a time. Discover the other party’s position and interests. Reframe the conversation to avoid confrontation.

Investigate and gather information from both sides. If possible, hold a pre-negotiation meeting to gather information. Explore all of the other party’s interests and concerns.
Consider what’s at stake from both perspectives. Why is your position important to you? What will your demeanour be? Anticipate challenges, and prepare evidence to overcome them. 


Meet face-to-face, on neutral ground. Be positive – focus on similarities. Identify and present added value as alternatives. Link your solution to the other party’s interests. Create an atmosphere of trust by asking questions, listening, discussing and offering options.

Ask open-ended questions to determine interests, desires and concerns, allowing the other person to explain their point of view. Show an open mind, and encourage dialogue. 

Restate the other person’s perspective so they know you understand them. Use a collaborative approach to collect ideas and foster agreement. 


Identify ideal and realistic positions. Empathise: tell them you hear their concerns. Create mutual problem-solving conversation. 

Know your non-negotiable and negotiable items. Know what you want and don’t want – and why. Know what your counterpart wants and doesn’t want, and why. Create a ‘value statement’ based on what the negotiation means for them. 

Provide evidence of ways to save and improve value. Show appreciation for different interests and positions. Be fair and reasonable. Think before you speak, and speak confidently. 


Have an action and follow-up plan. Be goal-oriented. Accept, agree and commit to a win-win solution. Both parties should end on a positive note and shake on a specific solution. These strategies can help bring matters to a head: 
‘Either/or’: Preparing two acceptable outcomes and giving the other person a choice can move things along and make them feel they have ‘won’.

‘Deal or no deal’: One of the best ways to gain commitment is to ask for it. Direct questions can save time. 
‘Act now’: State a deadline or small window of opportunity, or offer a bonus. If the other party acts now, it can move the process along and seal the deal.