How To Be a Good Negotiator

Negotiation is an important life skill that can be seen in all spheres of life. Asking for a raise in the salary, asking for a lower price while buying a new house or settling an agreement between two governments would all require one skill; and that is negotiation. You would have heard from your tutors or parents about this concept, but it’s unlikely that anyone would have taught the details of it.

So, let’s explore the skill of negotiation in some greater detail!



There is an assumption that negotiation is all just about being lucky on the spot. However, this is a process that has phases to it. It is generally divided into 2 phases, which are, “Assessment”, and “Engagement”. and There is an assumption that negotiation is all just about being lucky on the spot. However, this is a process that has phases to it. It is generally divided into 3 phases, which are, “Assessment”, “Engagement” and “Transaction”.

I. Assessment

  • Planning is of paramount importance: You need to be clear of the objective, think about the target audience and anticipate possible areas of differences. You need to know about the person whom you are negotiating with. be quick to grasp the tone and mannerism of your counterpart.
  • Proper cost-benefit analysis is needs to be done beforehand: What you want must conveyed with clarity, in a professional manner. You also need to take a step further to understand the preferences and interests of our counterparts. In any point in the negotiation, if you feel that your counterpart’s interest is absurd, make sure not to adopt a condescending tone and form a ground for conflict.
  • Know your counterpart: Do some research about your counterpart, assess their body language, and be sharp to grasp any non-verbal signs.

II. Engagement:

  • The upper hand: Domination of the conversation depends on who takes up most of the time in making their stand. It is crucial to maintain a subtle dominance. You must figure out the moments in the conversation when there is least resistance; and that is when you slide in your “demands”.
  • Earn their trust: It is important to establish that both parties are trying to arrive at a conclusion that benefits mutually. So, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be honest and reasonable with each other.
  • Be professional: Emotions might lure us into unnecessary conflicts. Part of being professional is to not let emotions cloud one’s judgement. Otherwise, we might end up sabotaging ourselves.

The Harvard principles of negotiation 

  1. Separate the person from the issue: They are your partner; you need to be friendly.
  2. Establish what’s in the best interest for both parties: Do not drive too quickly into solutions
  3. Develop criteria that a solution must fulfil: Helps to narrow down the conversation, and satisfies both parties
  4. A variety of options: The freedom of choice needs to be given, make sure its not too restricted. Be aware of some underlying differences which may cause tensions.


There is something called the “The Tribes Effect”. This is the mindset that pins you against your opponent, leading to a “you versus me” situation. This, however, is the biggest blunder in the process of negotiation.


You may have heard of something called the repetition compulsion as well. It’s a Freudian concept with basically says that humans have the tendency to unconsciously repeat history, make the same mistakes and recreate their earlier traumas. In the context of negotiation, if you have had unsuccessful experiences of negotiation in the past, you need to set the emotional baggage of those aside and believe in fresh starts.

A “positive identity” needs to be created. There is a fear that the opposite party would view you as being too greedy or demanding. What’s important is a problem-solving mentality which will benefit both parties. Be sure to suggest alternatives to arrive at a good deal.


Expectations drive behavior. If our counterpart’s aspect us to be on the losing end of the negotiation, they will exhibit them through non-verbal communication and in their choice of words. It is important to stand your ground and keep in mind that the expectations counterparts have of you is of no significance; it’s you who will set the tone for yourself.