Even the most experienced negotiators feel jitters and fear when negotiating. To combat this, I often recommend Negotiate Without Fear, by Dr. Victoria Medvec, a renowned expert in high-stakes negotiating and an advisor to Fortune 500 companies, and to the CEOs and C-level executives who coach with me.  

Whether it's about a high-stakes corporate takeover, your salary, or simply your kids' bedtime, life is filled with negotiations. Medvec's tactics are based on a compilation of studies of both sides of a negotiation. One side will take the lead by negotiating with confidence and maximizing success. The other is afraid of losing the deal and damaging the relationship.

It is important to build a negotiation strategy by considering the needs of the other party at all times. The more you know about the other side's interests, objectives, and options, the more power you have. When building your strategy, aim for these objectives: 

  1. Answer the other side's questions and address their needs.

  2. Point out what makes you, your product, or your service different and unique.

  3. Build and grow your relationship with the other side.

  4. Have ambitious goals to maximize your outcome.

Two powerful strategies that could favor your side when negotiating.

  • BATNA, or "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." This is your biggest source of power, which is to prepare your options, or your Plan B (or C, D, and E). Also, it is how you assess the other side's options and use it to establish your goal for the negotiation.
  • MESO, or "multiple equivalent simultaneous offer." Would you rather have multiple offers--or, better said, lots of ways to win? People often love choice and evaluating all the options. It makes you look sincere and cooperative, and you're being more strategic by thinking through all their needs and bringing more to the negotiating table. 

The five Fs of the fearless negotiator.

  1. Go first. Research tells us that usually, the one who makes the first offer has the advantage because it allows them to take the lead. 
  2. Focus on them by assembling the rationale that shows how you meet their needs.
  3. Frame your offer correctly in terms of avoiding potential losses, rather than highlighting the benefits, to create a sense of urgency on the other side and act in your favor. This will prevent them from staying in the comfort of the status quo. 
  4. Be flexible by offering various options to lead the possible deal to an agreement. Work on how you work together, not if.
  5. Avoid feeble offers. Be solid and clear on your offer and share ways you can help your negotiating partner reach their goals, instead of waiting for them to propose a new offer.

There's a point where you should end the negotiation with a commitment tactic--something like, "the board has only approved this" or, "I am only authorized to go this far." This way you're saying the deal should be defined by now. And while you're not closing the door to further conversations, you have to stick to the settlement that you are discussing.  

I try to remember that the other side is scared too. Like you, they're only human. Negotiation usually starts with no. That should not be seen as a wall, but as a window of opportunity. Your goal is to increase your confidence and maximize your outcome by testing the boundary conditions, and by making the other side push back.