Preparing for a Negotiation

A negotiation is a process in which two parties attempt to come to an agreement. Negotiation can appear everywhere, such as when comparing two ideas, work conditions, terms in a contract, personal issues between employees, a pay raise, etc.

Preparation is an essential part of negotiation. Successful negotiators don’t wing it at the negotiating table. The way to prepare for a negotiation is essentially, to gather information. This information should include your interests, resources and alternatives, and also those of your opponent. Be ready with all your facts, and bring all the documents you might need.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and anticipate their needs. What do they want? What are they trying to avoid? Take the time to research and understand your opponents’ position. Identify your BATNA, which refers to “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” A BATNA is how far you will concede, and how much you are willing to give to your counterpart.

Make sure you know exactly what is your desired outcome, so you know whether to stop or keep going. Write down a list of the points that will be negotiated. Include all the obvious points, and try and imagine what other issues might arise. Place a value on each issue, and what value your counterpart might place as well. Keep an eye out for areas where you have similar interests, or for possible trade offs. Think about possible objections, and prepare other options. Don’t forget the background information. Study the personalities of those involved, and any essential cultures and laws that may impact the outcome.

And remember, flexibility is the most important skill in order to reach a compromise. Do not walk in with a fixed idea. New information will appear during the process, and you need to be open to other alternatives.


Top 5 benefits of improving negotiation skills:

  1. Helping career advancement
  2. Improving ability to engage in conflict resolution
  3. Increasing problem solving strategies
  4. Developing communications skills
  5. Gaining the ability to persuade others