5 Steps for Better Negotiated Outcomes

5 Steps for Better Negotiated Outcomes

You too can become a great negotiator

Becoming a great negotiator is a skill that each of us has the potential to master. But it takes more than just showing up and winging it - success in negotiation requires a commitment to preparation, a solid plan, and a little bit of finesse. Great negotiators not only understand the strategies and tactics of the negotiation process, but they also possess certain qualities and characteristics that help them stand out from the crowd.

The Crestcom negotiation model is a proven method that can help you navigate even the most challenging negotiations with confidence. With five key disciplines, this model provides a clear roadmap for building strong relationships and achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.

Step 1: Prepare

The purpose of the Prepare step is to determine the outcome you would like to achieve and to formulate plans to begin a dialogue that keeps a good working relationship among the negotiators.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What will you say to initiate the negotiation conversation?
  • How will you begin your dialogue?
  • How do you want your negotiation to end? Or what does success look like?
  • What are the objectives?
  • When thinking about your outcome, what information do you have, or can you find, to support your objectives?
  • What is your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) in the event that you can't reach agreement?
  • When will you walk away without an agreed outcome?

Keep in mind that in planning, we can establish clear focus goals, but we also have to be open to unexpected opportunities or obstacles that may arise during the process. Negotiation is an interactive and creative process that often leads down unexpected roads. While preparing, anticipate challenges and discussion points that may be encountered during the negotiation.

Step 2: Know

The second step is all about understanding the other party's perspective. How might they feel about your objectives? What is important to them?

To be an effective negotiator, you need to be able to put yourself in the other person's shoes, identify their interests and needs, and ask relevant questions that can help you gain valuable insights. By showing empathy and actively listening to the other party's concerns, you can build trust and find common ground.

The best negotiators ask lots of questions. Use questions to validate what you think may be true or to uncover more of the other person's interests and needs.

During the actual negotiation, your emotions may come into play as the other party responds to your questions. You can prepare yourself to reply with emotional intelligence by using active listening techniques to clarify what the other person said. This is sometimes called mirroring, repeating back what the other person said to make sure you are on the same page

Once you ask the question, be sure to listen to the response. Don't get caught up in what you are going to ask next. You have your questions well prepared. Let the other person know you are interested in their answer.

Some active listening techniques to employ:

  • A great way to gather more information is to say, "Tell me more about that."
  • If you're not sure what the other person meant, ask for clarification.
  • Ask "Why" or "Why not" during appropriate times (be careful of your tone!)
  • Ask follow-up questions to dig a little bit deeper into their response.

Practice using emotional intelligence by displaying using empathy, an important characteristic for good negotiators:

  • Validate their perspective: "I can understand how you might feel that way."
  • Ask open-ended questions that require more thought to respond to than a simple "yes" or "no."

Some useful questions to help you move into the next step of negotiation are:

  • "What do you think about this arrangement?"
  • "What concerns do you have that I have not addressed yet?"
  • "What do you need from me to make this request work?"
  • "What would a successful arrangement look like?"

Discuss any differences of opinion with openness and honesty, not with personal bias or blame. The key to a win-win outcome is to actively maintain a positive relationship throughout the negotiation.

Step 3: Create

Negotiations rarely go exactly as planned, so it's important to be able to think on your feet and come up with creative solutions to unexpected challenges. In the Create step, you'll brainstorm a variety of possible alternatives and evaluate them based on their credibility and potential to meet both parties' needs. By having a solid backup plan in place, you can stay flexible and adapt to changing circumstances.

The Create step prompts us to generate credible alternatives by brainstorming. Bring forward multiple ideas and alternatives in response to the information you collected in the "know" step. Don't qualify or judge the ideas. Just get them all out first.

After you have brainstormed a good number of ideas, then evaluate them. There are a variety of ways to do this openly in a discussion: ranking, scoring, etc. Answer the question: which would be the most credible ideas for you to use if negotiations went down this path or that?

Additionally, you'll want to be sure you outline your BATNA. Your BATNA is your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. What are you willing to accept as an alternative to your desired outcome?

Remember, we should always be working towards a win-win outcome, considering the needs and interests of both sides and maintaining good relationships. Completing the Create step during your preparation helps the process go much more smoothly.

Step 4: Give and Get

Negotiation is all about give and take, and in this step, you'll need to be prepared to make concessions in order to reach a mutually beneficial agreement. By being patient, respectful, and mindful of your tone and body language, you can help foster a productive dialogue and keep the negotiations moving forward.

Each side may need to be creative to find a compromise. A creative mind can continue to construct different alternatives that may be acceptable to both sides. In preparing for this discipline, make a list of possible concessions. What would you be willing to let go to make a deal? Prioritize which concessions are more important versus less important

Consider your bottom line. When would you be willing to walk away if the negotiations did not work out? It is good to know personally when to walk away if there is no deal to be made. Reflecting on the clarity around why you are negotiating will help you decide when to leave or continue with the negotiations. This is an important step in the planning process.

Six important traits to remember during the give and get step of the negotiation:

  • Good negotiators exhibit patience.
  • It is important to pay attention to interpersonal communication. Be present.
  • Carefully consider your choice of words and tone, and demonstrate respect.
  • • Read the other person, mirror their actions to show you've gained rapport. Use body language to engage and communicate sincerity. This includes appropriate eye contact, leaning forward, listening and nodding, and agreements of ideas.
  • • Determine the best path to go down by asking questions. You can use probing questions that dig deeper to reveal additional information to help move the negotiation forward. What would happen if we...? Or, how would that work? A phrase like "say more about that" can reveal more thoughts in the process as well. Allow the other party to weigh in on your concessions, perhaps offering concessions of their own. Use questions to gather more information about the other party's concerns.
    Asking questions can provide a better understanding of the issues on both sides and may surprisingly lead to additional alternatives.
  • It's important to maintain positive relationships during this step and throughout the negotiation. Continuously checking your emotional level can lead to a more positive outcome, even if you decide to walk away from the negotiation. Don't burn bridges.

For 21 Tips and Tactics to get the most out of any negotiation, read our article here

Step 5: Conclude

In the final step, you'll work to bring the negotiation to a close and solidify the agreement you've reached.

At the conclusion step, clarify the agreement and define the next steps. Close with confidence and clarity. Clarify with phrases like, "So what we're agreeing to is..." Summarize what is agreed upon, think about the next steps, and have each party sign the agreement.

Hold yourself to the highest standards, no matter the outcome of the negotiations. Your actions define your character. If you've lost the agreement or have stopped the negotiation, leave with grace. Don't burn bridges. In negotiation, the best outcome is a win-win. Everyone wins and benefits from the outcomes of the negotiation.

Remember, great negotiation skills hold the key to achieving your personal and professional objectives. They help you accomplish long-term career success, boost creative and reasoning abilities, become better at strategizing, resolve conflicts, make it more difficult to be taken advantage of, and create value in any organization.

business meeting people shaking hands
Image by Werner Heiber from Pixabay

Related Module:

Mastering Negotiation

Further Resources

CRESTCOM ARTICLE: What You Will Learn in Negotiation Skills Training