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10 Tips for Effective Negotiations

By Jailan Dahab

We always relate negotiations with diplomatic relations and businesses. However, this is not true given that negotiation is an integral part of our lives. You should know first what negotiation is before laying out the tips for effective negotiations. 

Negotiation is defined by Roger Fisher and William L. Ury, the authors of Getting to Yes, as a back-and-forth communication between parties, with the aim to settle a dispute, or reach an agreement or a win-win solution for their conflicting interests. 

So, in order to reach this win-win agreement, every negotiator should undertake the steps below:

1. Prepare and Plan for Negotiations

  • Study and investigate the issue/case at hand.   
  • Define your utmost goal and know your interests, and give each interest a weight. 
  • Prioritize your interests.
  • Identify your concerns.  
  • Be aware of your points of strength and points of weakness in terms of personality, emotional intelligence, position, etc.
  • See the issue/case at hand from a different angle by putting yourself in the opponent’s shoes in order to pinpoint his/her interests, needs, and goals. 
  • Expect rejections from the opposing party and consider the effects, advances, and negative consequences of your proposal on the opposing party should it be approved.
  • Brainstorm and put all alternatives on the table.
  • Study your opponent well by knowing his/her decision-making power and how supportive he/she is.
  • Be aware of the penalties and the timeframe.
  • Be considerate of the venue of the negotiation process. 
  • Establish your rules and ethics. 

2. Know Your BATNA/Fallback Position

  • Besides coming out with alternatives, you should know your BATNA which is coined by Roger and Ury, standing for the Best Alternative for a Negotiated Agreement/Settlement. Knowing your BATNA, certainly, helps you to think of the worst-case scenario when you fail to reach a negotiated agreement and when you exhaust all options and alternatives you have on the table.   
  • Your BATNA should be strong, so that you can have a clear benchmark that helps you to compare any negotiated settlement. 
  • Be conscious of the consequences of the failure of the negotiations on the other party, so as to direct the frame to the value you offer. 
  • Understand the consequences of and risks associated with your BATNA. 

3. Pull Out

  • Decide your walk away point in order not to give concessions or accept lousy, worthless terms during the negotiation process. 

4. Know the Effect of Emotions on Negotiations 

  • Bear in mind that emotions affect your decision-making, behavior, and perception in the negotiation process. 
  • Develop your emotional strategy throughout the negotiation process. 
  • Build rapport throughout the negotiation process. 
  • Control your emotions and avoid emotional outburst in order to not be defensive. 
  • Do not rush to respond to the opponent’s outburst and put his/her emotional outburst on the table.
  • Suspend negotiations for a certain period of time when needed and when it would be good for negotiating parties. 

5. Anchors

  • Your offers should not be extreme. 
  • Make an attractive initial offer.  
  • Be realistic.
  • Don’t ask for less or unrealistic demands. 
  • Avoid being idealistic. 

6. Listen

  • Be a good listener and be open to more information. 
  • Be mindful of non-verbal signs/messages, such as nodding, shrug of the shoulders, smiles, posture, mirroring, and eye contact.  
  • Synthesize what you hear. 

7. Probe 

  • Ask for clarification by employing your probing skills effectively.
  • Use empathic and consequential questions. 

8. Avoid Common Errors

  • Do not assume shared values.
  • Do not assume that communication preferences and strategies are always alike. 
  • Do not await reciprocity.
  • Do not focus on proving yourself right or showing your ability. 
  • Do not be overconfident, so that you should collect information about your opponent. 

9. Think of Creative and Innovative Solutions

  • Always think that reaching a common ground and negotiated settlement is doable and possible.
  • Keep the door open and be fair. 
  • Develop options that meet the interests of the negotiating parties. 
  • Be committed. 
  • Evaluate the alternatives and articulate the best or most doable ones. 

10. Know the Barriers to Negotiation

Those include: 

  • Self-perception-related barriers: anxiety and rule-oriented approach. 
  • Apologies and disagreement and assertive statements. 


Accordingly, when you master the art of negotiation, you will unquestionably create a better world with a durable peace, and you will also contribute to the global development agenda.   


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