Negotiating - we all do it, some of us better than others.

We negotiate in our work, we negotiate with the boss for a pay rise, we negotiate with the waiter when the meal isn't quite up to scratch, we negotiate with our children about household arrangements...

In fact, we are always negotiating. But how many people in your organiziation know how to negotiate? What happens if they don't?

Managers don't manage wisely. Sales people don't sell profitably. Buyers don't buy cost effectively. Personel don't settle disputes amicably. Executives can't expand the business. In short-a lot of oraganizational goals cannot be achieved if you staff fail to realize your potential as negotiators.

Contrary to popular opinion skills can be learned. In this series of four articles I will address some of the techniques which with practice will provide better results for both parties.


All negotiations go through 6 phases and providing you recognise them and adjust your negotiation accordingly you will get the best results possible.

The six pahases are:


PREPARE: Get all the facts and consider the options before going in to bat. Find out about the other party and decide on a negotiation style. Most importantly get really clear about what you want. Actually write your want's down and prioritize them [for your eyes only of course].

WANTS: This is the first face to face phase. State all your wants clearly and in point form [beware of letting them know your priorities] Don't give reasons or explanations regarding your wants and certainly give no concessions at this point.

Find out the wants of the other party. This is generally the most difficult part of the negotiation frequently they haven't thought it out and even if they think it is not safe to tell you. Sometimes you may have to prompt them as to what they might want. Only when this phase is complete can you afford to move on to the propose phase. This wants phase may take up to 50% of the negotiation time.

BEWARE: This may sound simple. In my experience participants in our workshops and people at all levels of negotiation, consistently fail to state and elicit wants effectively. No wonder the parties get bogged down in argument. Proposals can only be made booking together from each party.

PROPOSE: Propose solutions which will meet both parties' wants. Make such proposals conditional always asking for something in return. e.g. IF you give me a 15% discount THEN Always use the form IF....THEN....

BARGAIN: Bargains and trade concessions by firming up your proposals into commitments "I will order double quantities if you deliver in 7 days and give me a 10% discount. This is the phase in which agreement actually occur.
WARNING! Don't give any concessions without getting a concession in return.

AGREE: IN the agree phase you summarize all the agreements you have made and ensure that no essential elements have been left out that both sides understand their responsibilities by asking the questions Who does - what, when, where, how and for how much money [where applicable].

FOLLOW-UP: In this phase follow up and ensure that you have carried out your part of the deal and the other party theirs.
The rule is to FOLLOW UP FAST, particularly if there is a slippage or apparent lack of progress from the other side.

Although there is a general progression through phases in the order given, you will find that you will skip back and forth between the phases as the negotiation progresses. If you lose track always ask yourself "Which phase am I?" The answer in that situation usually is none of the phase! You are almost certainly in argument, point scoring or persuation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.