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By Conor Meyers

I recently read an interesting article titled "Steps to Effective Negotiations" published by E-myth and thought I would take a moment to share the high points. As lawyers, consultants, claims people and business owners we are often placed in positions requiring us to negotiate and I do not simply mean when we are at a mediation or settlement conference.

Negotiating is something that we do all of the time; in our professions and in our personal lives. It does not always involve money. Often it can be as simple as negotiating in order to protect someone or to get what we need to resolve a claim or even negotiating with kids to get them to do things.

Here are some thoughts for you to consider when negotiating. Whether you already know them or not, it serves as a good reminder; as some or all may come into play in a particular negotiation:

  1. Decide the bottom line before the negotiation starts. Always have this pre-determined before starting the negotiation.
  2. Very important- Consider the objectives and emotional motivations of the other side. Steven Covey says "Seek first to understand, Then to be understood".
  3. Develop a plan/strategy for proposals and counter-proposals
  4. Determine your own motives. All people involved have different interests-lawyers, clients, claim's people, experts-and you need to consider your motives and then balance them with those in the group.
  5. Be prepared. The more facts and figures at your fingertips the better you are in presenting your position and effectively addressing counter positions.
  6. Begin the negotiation on a point of agreement. This helps to establish a baseline for the discussion.
  7. Propose the deal/offer in terms of "I will do this for you and you will do this for me".This type of language places you in a position of confidence and authority.
  8. Don't go to your lowest or highest point (bottom line) out of the gate. Strategize to develop arguments and incremental proposals to get you where you want to end.
  9. Recognize when it is time to end discussions. If the deal is acceptable to you then make it simple for the other side to close- i.e. have an agreement ready to sign.

And always remember, objectives are what you want and the bottom line is what you need. They are not usually the same thing.