Preparing for the Negotiation Process

Preparing for negotiation is as critical as the negotiation process. As you get ready, you have time to consider your needs and wants, the needs and wants of the other people involved, and about the style and approach you will take. You also plan for important aspects like time and place.

Seven Key Considerations

Effective negotiation preparation includes consideration of the following:

  • Establishing objectives or goals. What do you want or need?
  • What do you know about the other person’s wants or needs?
  • What are the positions vs. interests? What is it you would like to see happen vs. what is it you need to see happen?
  • Who will conduct the negotiation—you or someone else representing you? What about the other person?
  • Where and when will you meet?
  • Who will set the agenda?
  • What ground rules, if any, might be needed?
  • What homework is required, before the actual negotiation begins?

Even though the above steps may seem extensive, the degree and completeness of proactive planning directly corresponds to a positive result. Keeping the time permit in mind, it is best to establish (in writing if possible) an outline of your goals and expected outcomes from the negotiation, based on the above list. Having a transparent approach about what you are negotiating, and keeping the seven considerations outlined above in mind, is critical. Being ready will not only generate confidence in the success of the negotiation process but will also allow us time to consider about what the other side wants or needs, you will be well on the way to finding a possible win-win solution. (A win-win solution is an integrative negotiated agreement. In theory this means the negotiating parties have reached an agreement after fully taking into account each other’s interests, such that the agreement cannot be improved upon further by any other agreement. By definition, there are no resources or ‘option’ left on the table and all creative options have been thoroughly exploited). By being considerate and open to the other parties, you practice an inclusive , problem solving method as opposed to a competitive approach, and you are more likely to accomplish far more than if you take a rigid, competitive, me-vs.-you or us-vs-them approach.

Collecting Detailed Information

Even though the negotiation preparation checklist you just used will give you all or most of the idea of what you need to prepare effectively for simple negotiations. In many instances, on the other hand, it will be helpful and even critical to get more detailed information before you negotiate. Here are some steps for collecting detailed information. Note that these are similar to the steps we have already looked at above; these steps increase the material to cover additional information.

  • Describe in detail the issues that are important to you.
  • Identify and rank the interests that must be met for you to be satisfied with the outcome.
  • Describe various settlement options that will meet your needs, satisfy your interests, and resolve the issues.
  • Identify in as much detail as you can the issues you think will be important to the other party or parties involved.
  • Identify and rank the interests that they would like to have met to be satisfied with the outcome.
  • If possible, describe settlement options that you think will meet their needs.
  • Integrate the issues, interests, and options of your side and the other side to determine where common interests and common ground exist, what alternative solutions might be acceptable to all parties, and what differences will have to be overcome.
Negotiation Basics
The Seven Basic Steps in Negotiation

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