Negotiating Tactics

John Krautzel
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Negotiation is part of nearly every job. Whether you're dealing with a huge merger or trying to get a better price from a supplier, your strategy and style can impact the final outcome. Since no one negotiating tactic is appropriate for every person and every business deal, it's important to have multiple strategies.

Come With a Backup Plan

Few negotiations end with each person getting exactly what he wants. To reach a final agreement, both parties must make concessions. Before you head into a session, come up with an acceptable backup plan in case your ideal situation is not possible. Your Plan B should include a list of areas in which you are willing and able to back off. When the other person rejects your first offer, you can turn to the list to start making other offers. This negotiating tactic shows you're willing to compromise to ensure both parties walk away satisfied.

Start Things Off

Traditional business wisdom advises that to retain the upper hand, you must allow the other party to take the first step. A more effective negotiating tactic, whether you're negotiating a professional salary or a business deal, is to make the first offer yourself. Start with terms that are considerably better than you expect to receive. In doing so, you set a high anchor point and prevent the other person from opening with a low-ball package. This strategy gives you a psychological advantage; instead of convincing the other person to raise his price, you can graciously accept a lower offer.


Too often, negotiations are seen as adversarial; to get what you want, the other person must lose. A better negotiating tactic is to practice empathy. During a discussion, pay close attention to the people across the table. Listen to their tone and watch their body language to identify pain points. Then, validate their concerns to reduce feelings of defensiveness that can hinder the negotiation. Once you identify the things that are most important to the other party, you can choose your compromises accordingly. When you demonstrate a willingness to bend, the other person might be more likely to reciprocate.

Walk Away

Sometimes, it's impossible to reach a satisfactory compromise. The other party might insist that corporate policy prevents it from conceding, or it may simply be unyielding in your key areas. When you reach this point, the best negotiating tactic is to walk away. This tactic is particularly effective when you're deep into a conversation; the more invested the other person is, the more likely he is to want a conclusion. Your decision to walk might prompt an instant compromise, or you might receive a call a few days later. If you don't, you can rest easy knowing you didn't give in to an unfavorable offer.

The ability to negotiate is one of the most useful skills for a business professional. With practice, you can choose the right negotiating tactic for any situation and increase your chances of success.

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