7 Must-Ask Questions in Any Negotiation
A negotiation is nothing more than a discussion through which both parties seek to formulate and settle upon a mutually beneficial agreement, whether this agreement is a multi-million dollar contract or simply at which restaurant to meet for dinner. Our daily professional and personal lives are riddled with negotiations, those across a boardroom table, the kitchen table and everywhere in between.
But, what sets a successful negotiator-one who comes out on top in deal-making more often than not-apart from those who struggle to gain advantages? Of course, there are numerous strategies one can employ to improve their chances of emerging victorious in a negotiation, and paramount among these is asking just the right kind of questions-those that will elicit answers that facilitate a win for all parties involved.
With this in mind, here are 7 "must ask" questions in any negotiation to best ensure a desirable outcome:
1. Would you explain the reasons for your position?
If you can't clearly understand the other party's reasoning through simple discussions, the best way to discern the other parties position and motivations on deal points is to directly ask them their rationale for what they are offering or seeking. Once you know the other party's thought process and justifications, rather than just the outcome they desire, you can better adjust your strategy and response to coincide with their position. For instance, in a scenario where the other party is requiring some advance payment that doesn't sit well with you, you might find out that they need the funds at this initial juncture to fund required material or other costs in order to put the arrangement in motion. Once you understand the logic behind requests and demands relating to a deal structure, you are better able to control discussions and create agreeable terms.
2. Is there any reason you can't?
This is a great question to ask when you know the other party is avoiding or rejecting your offer for no legitimate reason or not having thought it through well enough. Sometimes people make shallow excuses for why they can't do something or shoot down an idea with short-sighted objections. Most often when the question is asked this way, the other party has a hard time coming up with truly legitimate reasons that effectually negate your argument or offer. In instances where the other party does happen to come up with a viable objection, you now have the opportunity to directly address, and hopefully overcome, that objection with sound reasoning of your own.
3. Why do you think this is a fair and reasonable term or condition?
A fair and reasonable term or condition, such as a price, proposal or provision, can be defined as what's prudent under competitive market conditions, given a reasonable knowledge of the marketplace. Fair implies a proper balance of conflicting or divided interests. Reasonable means not extreme or excessive. So a fair and reasonable term or condition is one that is balanced between all parties and somewhat moderate. If you are concerned about the reasonableness of an offer, do some due diligence to research comparables. Then ask the opposing party this question to encourage them to define and defend the reasonableness of their requirement. This will help assure you are securing the best deal possible.
7 Must-Ask Questions in Any Negotiation By Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez
Copyright © 2015 Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2015 The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine April 2015