negotiationNegotiation Skills

The 6 Steps To Negotiation (part 3)

5. Set Goals, Boundaries, and back-up plans

In the beginning of the negotiation, sometimes even before a face to face encounter, it is a good idea for the parties to establish agreed-upon ground rules.  Ideally, you should take the initiative to craft these rules, since you will now be trained by reading this book and since you can establish a bit of emotional control in the beginning.

You can do this by phoning the other side and saying: “look, I know that we both want a successful conclusion to our negotiation tomorrow, so why don’t we agree on a few ground rules.  OK?  I suggest that we agree to be civil and respectful to each other, and that when one party wants to take a break that we respect that request.  What do you think, can you agree to those?”  Of course he will, and this is the time to put in any other special requests that you have: deadlines, negotiating venues, teams, etc.  If you keep your ground rules reasonable, the other party will carry that image of you into the negotiation, and when you say something, it will more likely carry the suggestion of something that is reasonable.

In any negotiation, you have to have some goals as well.  Imagine how you would like the negotiation to conclude.  Think about what you would take as well as what you would walk away from.  Brainstorm any terms that you haven’t really considered, any future business that you would take in order to forge an agreement.

6. Get Agreement

You have done all of the other steps.  You have gathered information about your negotiation and your opponent.  You have set your goals and boundaries.  You knew your outcome.  You utilized some great strategies and now it is time to finalize the negotiation by getting agreement.  This is a crucial step, for if not done properly can unwind all of the work that the parties have done to this point.

The first thing that you must do is ensure that the deal is a good one for you according to the plan that you laid out before the negotiation started.  If not, do not agree to the deal.  Find a way to remove yourself from the negotiation to reevaluate, or you will be kicking yourself for accepting this agreement if you are not satisfied.

Next, ensure that it is a win-win negotiation.  By ensuring that both parties win, you will find that the last few items needed to finalize the agreement are much easier to accomplish since the parties are both feeling like winners.

Finally, you have to make sure that negotiation will “stick.”  Negotiators often have a tendency to agree in person, and then later, think of other things that they should have received.  They can forget that the negotiation might have dragged on for hours and even days just agreeing to the deal already in place.  Many times, this disintegrates into second-thoughts and the deal falls apart.  The negotiation must start again.  There are a few things that you can do to finalize the deal and make it stick even if there are second thoughts.

Get It In Writing

Wouldn’t it be great if people would just shake hands and stick to their deal?  Unfortunately, they sometimes don’t.  That is why we have contracts, and by extension, attorneys.  Agreements in writing have the advantage of memorializing the agreement of the parties while still fresh from the negotiation.  It is best to get the contracts drafted at the negotiation itself so that it is finalized sooner rather than later.  If the contract cannot be drafted jointly by the parties at the negotiation venue itself, then you should offer to draft the contract.  He who puts it in writing has the power.  Plus, you can ensure that the wording is favorable to you and include any items that were agreed upon by the parties, but which might have some ambiguity.  Then the other party has the responsibility to negotiate those terms out of the agreement if they are not agreeable.

One strategy that is often used is called the Fait Acompli.  With this closing strategy, used often in real estate, you send your counterpart a completed contract with a deposit check.  Now, they have a decision to make: accept the easy deal that is right in front of them or re-open negotiation and go through the cost and effort associated with that.


Even if you have had the most hostile, emotional negotiation, you must take the time to congratulate the other side on getting a great deal and being a great negotiator.  Think about this: how would you feel if, when you purchased a new car, the salesperson came out and said that he raked you over the coals; that you paid way too much and that you could have done way better?  Nobody wants to feel taken advantage of in a negotiation.  So, do the opposite.  Praise your opponent for the deal that they made and, if they were professional, for the way in which they conducted themselves during the negotiation.  This is easy if you have structured a win-win agreement.


In a previous chapter, we learned that negotiations can be broken down into fundamental concepts and building block components.  In this chapter, we further deconstructed a negotiation into six steps:

  • Know your Outcome
  • Do Your Homework
  • Know Your Opponent
  • Set Goals, Boundaries and Backup Plans
  • Understand Time and Patience
  • Get Agreement

Simply by following these steps in your next negotiation, you will be able to construct a negotiation from start to finish and get a better result, merely because you prepared.  Once you get the result that you want, don’t rely simply on a handshake.  Get it in writing.