The Negotiator Magazine

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  1. Prepare point by point: Negotiators who prepare outperform those that do not.
  2. Offer benefits for accepting your offer: You are much more likely to close if you offer the benefit…the "what's in it for them?" test.
  3. Frame your negotiation around one or two key points: Keep it as simple as possible by framing and reframing to keep things on track and reach agreements more efficiently.
  4. Know your BATNA: Your personal power comes from the ability to walk away if you are not able to reach an agreement. Effective negotiators not only know when to walk away, but how to walk away leaving the relationship intact.
  5. Prepare options for mutual gain: Be creative. Find innovative ways for both sides to get their interests met. "What if we tried this?"
  6. Listening is the most powerful negotiation skill: It will help you learn where your interests are shared with the other side, where they are opposed, and get a satisfactory outcome.
  7. Use the power of the draft: Always put your agreements in writing.

Changing the way you think about negotiating (joint problem solving versus a series of compromises where one party may win and one may lose) is the first step toward better results. Recognizing the reasons why people act the way they do, and having the ability to communicate to a broad range of behavioral styles gives the negotiator the ability to be reach satisfactory outcomes more consistently. Following a process or strategy is fine, but understanding the styles of the people with whom you are negotiating, and altering your approach to communicate more effectively can be the key to success. Last, developing a plan in advance of the actual negotiation will give the negotiator more confidence, and lead to better and more consistent results.

David A. Wachtel is the president of Hautacam Consulting, Inc., an Indianapolis based organization that provides training and coaching in negotiations, sales, change management, communication/conflict resolution, and management development. His experience includes a 20 year career in the insurance industry covering both the sales and underwriting/risk management functions from both the perspective of the company and the agent. Mr. Wachtel is a graduate of Butler University and holds the Associate in Underwriting designation. David Wachtel may be reached through his web site at

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April 2005