May 8, 2014

Starting Strong: 4 Ways to Negotiate With Confidence


Jeff Cochran


Before entering an important negotiation meeting, it is essential to be prepared. Many business deals rely on quality negotiation. If a negotiator walks into a meeting without preparation, he or she is likely to fail. Ways to prepare include formulating an agenda, creating a strategy, using time management techniques, knowing limits, and understanding the goals of both parties, among others. This key preparation is critical to negotiation success.

Preparing an Agenda

Identify what you expect will happen during the meeting. Which topics will be discussed? Who will attend? Where will the meeting be located, and how long will it last? Identifying topics to discuss can help prevent you from being blindsided by something unexpected or distracted by irrelevant subjects. Setting an agenda and distributing it to all relevant parties beforehand will ensure both parties are starting on the same page, with a shared understanding of what is expected to take place during the meeting.

Creating a Strategy

After performing research, prepare a meeting strategy. What do you want to achieve during the meeting, and how do you plan to achieve it? This will help you determine what kind of information you need to bring with you to help best prove your points and ultimately reach the identified objectives. Walking into the meeting without a strategy is often simply planning for failure.

Using Time Management

One method for managing time effectively during a negotiation is preparing an agenda to be distributed beforehand. This lets all parties know which elements will be covered, and helps them to identify how much time they might need to set aside. It is important to reserve enough time to talk through each point thoroughly. If not enough time is designated for a negotiation and you are unable to cover all items outlined in the agenda, both parties may walk away without reaching an agreement. This can be frustrating and upsetting to all. Do you think your negotiation will be covered in one meeting? If not, do you have definite dates and times set for future talks? If discussion during a negotiation meeting brings up questions requiring follow-up, do so promptly. This will demonstrate your respect for the time of others.

Knowing Limits and Goals of Both Parties

If tradeoffs are inevitable in negotiations, you need to identify what you are absolutely unwilling to concede to in order have a successful deal. What is your bottom line or ultimate goal? If you walk into a negotiation asking for something the other party has no chance of agreeing to, your negotiation won’t be successful. Identify limits and goals for all parties ahead of time.