The Negotiator Magazine

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14      Just because the other side poses an argument, that does not make it invalid. And, just because you pose an argument, does not automatically make it valid. A legitimate argument must be recognized when it occurs regardless of the origin. Being able to do this affects your credibility and the credibility of the other side.
15Plan your alternative to negotiations before entering the process. Reevaluate these alternatives continually. Do not be caught in a non-negotiable situation without a viable alternative to what you are attempting. Alternatives are what you do instead of negotiations. They represent your plan when you are away from the negotiating table.
16Some relationships may have to survive the negotiations; others will not have this need. Also, the relationship between the parties on the other side may be important to understand when doing strategic planning. Additionally, how important is the relationship likely to be between you and the other side when negotiations are concluded. Plan accordingly.
17This is an important one but not an easy one. Most negotiators think that they are good communicators. Most do not practice these skills. Probably more mistakes are made in this area than in any other. Review the skills and practice them over and over again. The key to successful negotiations will always be effective communications regardless of the forum. Role-play what is to be said, either before or during actual bargaining. Talking, listening, hearing, responding, and all the rest are acquired skills that cannot be underestimated. Above all else, heed this.
18Always know who the decision-makers are before getting too involved in the process. Evaluate responses to small agreements before entering into big ones. Always know with whom you are doing business. Try to do business only with those who can enter into an agreement should one be reached.
19Options are what you do at the table during negotiations. They are similar to arrows in a quiver. If you are hunting with only one arrow, you better be 100% all of the time. Few of us are. Always know where you will find your next arrow if the current one fails. Opt for options and keep your quiver full.

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May 2006