How to Negotiate Better


It’s imperative to know how to negotiate if you want to succeed at negotiation. In this video, Jennifer Bridges, PMP, explores the process and the secrets to better negotiation skills.

Here’s a shot of the whiteboard for your reference!

learn better negotiating skills

In Review – How to Negotiate Better:

Negotiating, as Jennifer said, is really a process designed to find common ground for the parties involved to achieve the best outcome for everybody. But successful negotiations take practice and skill. It’s all too common for people to get emotional and make hasty decisions that aren’t in the best interest of you or your team. That’s why we’re helping you today to improve your negotiating skills.

Common Negotiation Mistakes

Be sure to pay attention to your motivations when you’re negotiating. The goal is not to win at all costs. Conversely, it’s important not to get so flustered in the negotiations that you rush your decision-making process. 

Here are some common negotiation mistakes to watch out for:

  • Making unnecessary concessions
  • Paying more to save time
  • Trying too hard to get too much
  • Embarrassed to look cheap
  • Seeking approval over your best interests

Once you’re aware of these pitfalls, you can also be on the lookout for whether your opponent is also falling into those same traps.

Negotiation Strategy 101

Mindset is everything when you’re negotiating. Jennifer recommends an approach to mentally preparing for the negotiation. This can also work well as a framework for the entire negotiation when you’re trying to jumpstart the conversation:

Be honest and transparent. No, don’t show all your cards. But don’t be sneaky and cagey either. In most business negotiations, it’s evident that both sides want something. Be honest about what it is you’re aiming for in terms of your overall goals so that you can get into the details more quickly.

Then lead with a simple approach that can be said outright, or can be the overall framework for your meeting.

  • Here’s what I can do
  • Here’s what I can’t do
  • Now, where do we go from here?

Again, not every negotiation can be so simple, but frankly, some can. And whether you’re negotiating for a raise, for more funding, for buy-in on a project or proposal, or whether someone is pitching you, structuring your negotiations with honesty and transparency is always the way to go.

 3 Best Negotiation Tactics

Most negotiations require preparation and practice, but the more you prepare, the better you are no matter how many negotiations you’ve led. Jennifer outlines her three-step process for top-notch negotiations:

1. Prepare

Don’t go into any negotiation without preparation. For starters, there’s a lot of research you can do into your opponent and their motivations and goals for the negotiation. You can also look into the known precedents, both within the organization in terms of similar negotiations as well as other competitors’ history with like negotiations. It’s also important to analyze and explore the alternatives. In other words, what if this negotiation didn’t succeed, are there other paths you can take to achieve similar results? And out of all of that, you will be able to develop a coherent strategy in the time you have to prepare. 

2. Probe

In the negotiations, it’s important to take your time to really probe what the other side is proposing. If you’re beginning a negotiation with a desire to get out of there as soon as possible, you’re likely going to lose. Spend time hypothesizing with your opponent all the potential outcomes and scenarios that result from this negotiation. Start with a list of questions from which you can tally up your data, and return with more questions in another session. When presented with the opponent’s similar list, try to answer questions with questions to keep them talking as much as possible. You can learn a lot from each interrogative.

3. Propose

When you’re getting down to brass tacks, let the other side go first, if you can. You’ll want to hear, after all your research and questioning, whether their offer is anywhere near where you thought it would be. You can assume their first offer isn’t their best and final. So whatever you do, don’t accept the first offer. In terms of your own proposal, aim high. Even higher than you’re comfortable going. Don’t go as high as the moon, but keep your first proposal well above your comfort level. Your opponent will be accepting this. They won’t accept it, either. And they might have a blustery reaction, but remember that this is theater. Try to stay in the director’s chair as long as possible, and you’ll be fine.

This process offers you a framework to negotiate that will give you a level of comfort going in, but remember what Jennifer said about “the power of nice.” Keep it civil.

Pro-Tip: We’ve written about the nine steps to take in order to improve your negotiating skills. One that is often overlooked is the need to not be too serious. Yes, negotiating is not to be taken lightly, but a more fun approach can lessen stress and allow you to explore possibilities you may not have given thought to if you’re sticking to a rigid plan.

Thanks for watching!


Today we’re talking about how to negotiate better. I submit for Project Manager having this skill set is critical because, in truth, you’re negotiating all along the way the project, not just those big times that we commonly think of.

When we’re negotiating, we’re really just trying to reach an agreement or a compromise by discussions with others. Another way to look at it is, you’re finding a way over or through an obstacle or a difficult path. So the ultimate goal is to get a win-win situation, a win-win negotiation, because it leads to better relationships and future deals. A lesson learned is to be aware of those win-lose situations because in the end they ultimately lead to lose-lose, and those aren’t good in projects.

So let’s talk about some of the traps we want to avoid. Some of the traps can be making unnecessary concessions just to do the deal, or paying a premium just in order to avoid the process. Avoiding putting effort into making a better deal. Or even unwilling to haggle in fear of seeming cheap. And the last one is giving away the store just to gain the other side’s approval.

So those are some big traps you want to avoid. But a quick start or a jump start if you’ve never negotiated before is to always think of be honest and transparent. Present the approach of, “Hey, here’s what I can do. Here’s what I can’t do. So where do we go from here?”

But there’s a better process in place. I use one from the power of nice, and there are three steps. There’s prepare, probe and then propose. So let’s look at prepare. So when you prepare, you look at…you think through and you plan for your side and their side.

And you want to think through, like, what are the precedents? What are some of things that happened before that we want to remember? What are some alternatives? You want to go in with an alternative so you’re not left with just one choice. And if you don’t get that choice, then you lose. You also want to understand your interest as well as theirs. Those are powerful negotiating items.

So think about deadlines as well. You don’t want to find yourself pressed up against a deadline and be forced to choose something that doesn’t end well for you. And there’s a fact that 80% of the negotiation happens in that 20% of the negotiating deal. So think through your strengths and weaknesses.

Many times people downplay their strengths and they just assume that the other side doesn’t have any weaknesses at all. So, that’s not a good position to find yourself in either. You also want to look at the highest goal and your walk-away position. Know when it’s time to walk away.

And then also get your strategy for the negations and your team. Some people try to go at it alone but you can bring others with you. You can actually assign someone to actually lead the meeting and that negotiation process.

The second step is to probe, and that’s about just asking questions. Continue asking questions, and answer questions with questions. And the last part is proposing the offer. So there are rules here to remember. Always let the other side go first. Let them offer or they propose the solution. And don’t accept their offer too quickly.

Just really take it back and think through, how would that impact you? How would that impact your project or your organization? And then aim high. It’s found that people who aim high and really go for more actually get it.

So if you need a tool that can help you manage and track your negotiation process, then sign up for our software now at projectmanager.

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