How to Lead Negotiations?

Published: Dec 16 , 2014

If you don’t know how to lead a negotiation, then you may just find yourself being led down the bitter road of short stick lane. And that’s a road you don’t want to travel. If you weren’t blessed with the superstar negotiator gene right from day one, blame your parents. Or better yet, start changing the way you negotiate today and start leading your negotiations all the way to the bank.


Look at shared interests


There once was a father who gave his two boys a bundle of sticks each to make a fire. However, the sticks were too big, and so the father instructed his sons to break them. But as hard as each boy tried to break his bundle, each just couldn’t do it. The sticks, when in a bundle, were simply too hard and strong to break together. The father then handed each boy one stick each individually, and told them to try breaking that. They did. Then again, and again, and again. Soon the fire was raging, and both the father and his sons enjoyed a delicious meal together.


How does this relate to negotiating? Although some people have an “us against them” attitude when it comes to negotiation, the best negotiators focus on shared interests in the hope of settling on a win-win solution for all. This means finding similarities or common obstacles, and showing the other party that they can help each other by working together.


Build trust


When negotiating, it’s important that you inject as much trust into the process as possible. Why? The short answer is that trust will inevitability result in a better deal for both yourself and your negotiation partner. You will find that information will flow more freely and you will seek solutions that address both parties.

If you’re intending on dealing with realtionships over the long-term, perhaps to form a partnership to take over the world (or a market; your choice), then trust is absolutely essential. Trust is the glue that keeps relationships healthy and strong over the long-term.


Be clear in your goals


It may sound pretty obvious, but you need to be crystal clear in what you expect to get from a negotiation deal – not just for yourself and your team, but also for those you’re negotiating with. Make statements about what you want, when you want it, and how you think you both can come to an agreement. Effective negotiators are very clear on this, and that is why they’re able to walk away from deals with their heads held high.



There’s no reason why anyone can’t learn how to effectively lead a negotiation. All it requires is practiceand you’ll soon be leading your team down plentiful lane.



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As a negotiation specialist, I’m often asked what the best course of action is when the other party has all of the power. Maybe you are dealing with an incumbent or selling to a duopoly… so it may even feel like it is true that they have ‘all of the power’. While we could talk about what you do when it is true, my experience is that people typically have a lot more power than they might realise.

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Elizabeth Street
Surry Hills
02 9211 3999
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