Three Simple Steps Before You Negotiate

Assess the situation to see if negotiating makes sense

March 22, 2017

We negotiate all the time. Any time you want something that another person has, or that person wants something that you have, you’re in a potential negotiation.

Should you negotiate? That depends. You’ll want to size up the situation and determine whether or not a negotiation even makes sense. This allows you to become more aware of what your negotiating partner needs and wants, and it also provides time to assess your own interests. This pre-negotiation assessment gives you the time and space to identify common ground.

Use the three simple steps below to help you decide whether or not to proceed with a negotiation. If there aren’t enough common interests, it may be better not to negotiate at all. And if you proceed, you’ll want to use your initial assessment to plan the negotiation.

1 — Analyze Your Partner’s Perspective

Analyze what you know (or can presume) about a negotiating partner’s underlying interest in the issue under negotiation, as well as the beliefs and feelings that underlie those interests.

For example, ask yourself:

What does my partner want?

What’s at stake if he/she doesn’t get it?

2 — Analyze your Perspective

Equally important to understanding your negotiating partner’s perspective is articulating your own interests.

For example, ask yourself:

What do I want?

What’s at stake if I don’t get it?

3 — Identify Mutual Interests

Finally, you’ll want to see if there are mutual interests. Identifying mutual interests helps define what will work for both parties as a way to establish common ground. If there are no mutual interests, you might decide not to negotiate at all.

For example, ask yourself:

What do we both want?

What do we have in common?

What needs do we both share?

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