Just Say No

Negotiations work best when each party is equally motivated to get a deal done.  The parties can then make a deal that meets the legitimate needs of both parties.  Everyone wins.

In many negotiations, however, the parties are not equally motivated.  The Person with the Least Interest Controls any negotiation.  What do you do when you find yourself in a position of weakness because have the greatest interest in consummating the deal?

You have at least two options.  First, you can resign yourself to the idea that you will do the deal whatever the cost, and prepare to get the short stick.  From my vantage point, that’s not an appealing option.

Alternatively, you can look for ways to even the odds of a favorable negotiation.

One technique that helps level the playing field is to just say “no.”   Say “no” early and often.  Say “no” regularly and consistently.  Say “no” one time more than you are comfortable doing so.

Saying “no” helps diffuse your eagerness to close the deal.  It slows down the negotiation, and forces the parties to look for creative ways to get the deal done.  Saying “no” helps you fine tune the details of your deal.

Don’t be rude or belligerent when you say “no.”  Be respectful of the other party, and emphasize your interest in reaching a deal.  Keep the negotiation moving by making counterproposals and suggestions for bridging the gap between your positions.

Be polite and firm, but say “no” nonetheless.  Look for areas of agreement.  Find issues that are important to the other side but cost you little, and gradually make concessions on those issues.  Even when the motivations in your deal appear to be lopsided in favor of the other side, you can almost always find ways to negotiate a more favorable deal.

But first you must slow down the negotiation by saying “no”.

Say “no” one time more than you are comfortable doing so, and you will negotiate better deals.

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