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Negotiation Skills

Negotiating Skills: Exchange is Fair Bargain

Every negotiation, no matter how short in duration, or apparently minor in significance, benefits from each party spending some time in preparation and decision-making before the actual face-to-face process starts.

If we were to go to a weekend ‘market’ stall, few people would expect to do much prior thinking or preparation for a simple negotiation for something that has caught their eye when casually browsing (and only if the trader will accept ‘the right price for it’). In fact, in these circumstances, you may not care too much about whether or not a deal is struck and just want to enjoy watching the negotiation take its course. However, if you really want the item, lack of prior thought can put you at a considerable disadvantage if you aren’t an ‘expert’ negotiator and haven’t got a clear strategy in mind (after all, the trader is probably used to haggling with amateur negotiators regularly!).

This seemingly trivial example merely illustrates that some prior clarity about what we really want is always a good idea if the outcome matters to us enough. Hence, in an important negotiation, we should give ourselves the time to reflect and ideally write down the outcomes or goals that we are realistically seeking. Writing down our negotiation goals achieves two things:

  • It frames our goals in a succinct and tangible way.
  • It affords the explicit opportunity to review the realism of what we are seeking and how we might go about getting it.

The second of these outcomes of being clear and realistic about our negotiating goals (and ideally committing them to paper) is extremely important as it starts to suggest:

  • What we must achieve – or what you must absolutely attain as a minimum if any kind of deal is to be agreed by you.
  • What we should achieve – or what you’d like to achieve if you possibly can but there may be some trading flexibility.
  • What is nice to achieve – optional extras that would be welcome if you are fortunate or skilled enough to get them at no cost to your “must” or “should” items. In some cases these may even be offered up as negotiation “loss-leaders”.

And once we get into the actual negotiation, it is important to present our case in an entirely clear, calm and collected way – something that will be much easier because we have prepared so well.

The featured video clip is drawn from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder Negotiating Skills Video Vignette Set.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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