How to prepare for difficult negotiations

Many people believe that negotiations are above all a competition between two clever and quick-witted people and concentrate their attention on the concrete act of negotiation, i.e. the interaction between the actors. Experienced negotiators, on the other hand, know that a large part of the success of the negotiations is decided before the start of the concrete talks. Here a few elements that are essential for the good preparation of a negotiation:


The most important thing is to have alternatives to a deal. You need what the Anglo-Saxons call "walk-away power", the ability to walk away from a bad deal and not make it. Work hard before the start of the negotiation to have alternatives, i.e. different ways of closing a deal or the possibility of not closing a deal at all.


Another part of the preparation is the analysis of the balance of power between the negotiating parties. In many negotiations the forces are not equally distributed, but one party has one or more advantages.The main factors influencing the balance of power between the parties are the need to close the deal, the emotional desire (both cause lack of walk-away power), competition and the time factor. Analyze your own position against these four factors and form hypotheses about the other side's position against these four factors to use this knowledge in the negotiation to your advantage.


What information about the other side do you need to find out in order to increase or consolidate your bargaining power? How will you do that? What information about you should the other side not find out so that you do not reduce your bargaining power? How will you protect this information without lying, which is not only unethical, but can also have liability and criminal consequences?


Posted by M. Hirt.