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The art of negotiation: how to get what you want


I was thinking to myself a while ago that you don’t get in life what you deserve. You get what you negotiate. Have you have ever settled for less than what you deserved? Me too. I’ve found in my career, and in my personal life, that negotiation is truly an art form. I’ve learned from those experiences, and I’d like to share with you, in this limited space, a systematic approach that you can use to get what you want in most negotiations.

The art of negotiation is a challenge to intellectualize, but it’s not really that cerebral. Most people are born negotiators. For instance, a child will have a full-scale diva meltdown in public if they believe this will get them some ice cream. This, folks, is the art of negotiation in its simplest form. Children playing hardball.

To begin, in order to remove the combative element in negotiations, think of negotiating as two people participating in a mutual exchange, each of whom seeks to satisfy their respective need. If you plan to negotiate with the individual again in the future, it is always wise to craft a win-win scenario. This will translate into a steady stream of income for your business.

As long as you are clear about what you want, and what the other person truly wants, you can employ a myriad of strategies to get what you want. This is where due diligence becomes critical.

Investigate all parties to a deal if you don’t already know them. Call Dun & Bradstreet and the Better Business Bureau. Google their name. Talk to people who have done business with them before. Find out as much information as you can that will help you determine whether the offered deal will be lucrative, or even possible.

Once negotiations begin, you are ready to make an opening bid. Your bid should be reasonable and supportable. This increases your credibility, which is vital if you wish to negotiate with the other person in the future. Please note, however, that because many negotiations take place along a continuum, it is important to always ask for more than you want as your opening bid. If you only ask for what you need, you will not get anywhere near what you actually want.

Find ways to deal with the tension that people face when negotiating a deal. For example, setting limits for what you want out of the deal, for what you will take and still feel as though you got something out of the deal, and for the line beyond which it’s no longer feasible for you to negotiate the deal (your settlement range) will empower you, and will alleviate the tension that comes with the uncertainty as to whether or not a deal is even possible. However, importantly, you must understand when to hold ’em, and when to fold ’em. If you keep your settlement range in mind, you will not lose the deal because you were intent on trying to push past that which is possible in order to see how much better you could do.

Be careful not to lose sight of why you set your settlement range in the first place, namely to distinguish between an acceptable deal and an unacceptable deal. There are plenty of acceptable deals out there. Use the techniques we’ve just discussed to home in on them and cultivate them to fulfill your needs, and, hopefully, the needs of all parties involved.

© 2011. All Rights Reserved. Shaune B. Arnold, Esq. is a practicing attorney, business strategist and business coach. Contact her directly at This article is intended for information purposes only. All legal issues should be considered in light of the particular circumstances involved.  If you have legal questions, you should consult with an attorney.