How to negotiate Like a pro (skills and strategies)

Meaning of Negotiation

Negotiation is a common form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) which takes the form of a discussion between two or more disputants who are willing to obtain an amicable solution to their problem. Negotiation can occur at a personal level as well as at a corporate or international level.

Read also: Advantages of ADR

prerequisites for appropriate recourse to negotiation

The following are circumstances and prerequisites for appropriate recourse to negotiation.

Issues Must Be Negotiable

For a successful negotiation to occur, you must believe that there are acceptable settlement options that are possible as a result of participation in the process.

If it appears that negotiations will have only won or lose settlement possibilities and that your needs will not be met as a result of participation, then you must be reluctant to enter into negotiation.

You Must Have the Authority to Decide

For a negotiation to be appropriate, you must have the authority to make a decision.

If you do not have a legitimate and recognized right to decide, or if a clear ratification process has not been established.

Negotiations will be limited to information exchange between you and another person.

Unpredictability of Court Outcome

Generally people negotiate because they need something from another person.

They also negotiate because the outcome of not negotiating is unpredictable.

For example: If by going to court, you have a 50/50 chance of winning, you may decide to negotiate rather than take the risk of losing as a result of a judicial decision.

Negotiation is more predictable than court because if negotiation is successful, you will at least win something.

Chances for a decisive and one-sided victory need to be unpredictable for parties to enter into negotiations.

A Sense of Urgency and Deadline

Negotiations generally occur when there is pressure, or it is urgent to reach a decision.

Urgency may be imposed by either external or internal time constraints or by potential negative or positive consequences to a negotiation outcome.

External constraints include court dates, imminent executive or administrative decisions, or predictable changes in the environment.

Internal constraints may be artificial deadlines selected by a negotiator to enhance the motivation of another to settle.

For negotiations to be successful, you must jointly feel a sense of urgency and be aware that they are vulnerable to adverse action or loss of benefits if a timely decision is not reached.

If procrastination is advantageous to one side, negotiations are less likely to occur, and, if they do, there is less impetus to settle.


The interest is the prerequisite that can make recourse to negotiation appropriate.

In negotiating on the basis of interests, you will need to distinguish between positions and interests move from positions to interests list all the interests according to priority think of positions as only one of many solutions to the problem.

This will enable you to solve the psychological barrier and the tactical or strategic barrier.

in circumstances where there is a need to solve the competitive spirit between you and another party then instead of demanding what you both want you are ready to have grounds as to why you want what you want, that is trying to consider the interest which cannot help you reach a consensus agreement.

Since in competitive bargaining, it is impossible to consider one’s interest hence failure to negotiate and in case of the later barrier this principle help to cure the problem of aiming at benefiting more from the negotiation.

Agreement and Commitment

For a proper recourse to negotiation, an agreement between you and other participants should be specific, realistic, operational, clear, and understood by both.

It should be specific as to who will do what, how, when, and where. In the agreement, you should commit to what they have agreed.

Before signing an agreement one should ask himself as to whether he or she has any authority to sign the agreement.

You must be able to agree upon some common issues and interests for progress to be made in negotiations.

Generally, you will have some issues and interests in common and others that are of concern to only one party.

The number and importance of the common issues and interests influence whether negotiations occur and whether you terminate in agreement.

You must have enough issues and interests in common to commit yourselves to a joint decision-making process.

Willingness to Participate and Readiness to Negotiate

You must be ready to negotiate for dialogue to begin, but when you are not psychologically prepared to talk with the other parties, and when adequate information is not available, or when a negotiation strategy has not been prepared, you may be reluctant to begin the process.

The people or groups who have a stake in the outcome must be identifiable and willing to sit down at the bargaining table if productive negotiations are to occur.

But if a critical party is either absent or is not willing to commit to good faith bargaining, the potential for an agreement will decline.

Will to Settle

For recourse to negotiation to be appropriate, you must have the will to settle.

If the continuing conflict is more important than settlement, then negotiations are doomed to failure. Often parties want to keep conflicts going to preserve a relationship, that is a negative one may be better than no relationship at all, to mobilize public opinion or support in their favor, or because the conflicted relationship gives meaning to their life.

These factors promote continued division and work against the settlement. The negative consequences of not settling must be more significant and greater than those of settling for an agreement to be reached.

Understanding and Perception

The negotiation process is influenced by your perceptions and your interpretation of reality. Perceptions are influenced by your personal experience, emotional state of mind, and cultural background.

You have to keep eye contact, listen carefully, and make sure that you understood exactly what the other party said.

It is important to reframe what was said in order to make sure that what was said was understood and was indeed what was meant correctly, and that the other party knows he/she has understood.

BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement).

In the negotiation, you must have alternatives. Alternatives are those actions that one can take outside the negotiations, alone or possibly with a third partner, but without the party with whom you negotiate. The alternative that yields the best outcome for them is called the BATNA (Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement).

The BATNA if any of the alternatives without negotiation is better than the deal on the negotiating table, you will obviously go to the best alternative.

If however, the deal on the table is better than any of their alternatives, it will be your BATNA.

It is important to make sure that the alternatives are indeed realistic and try to improve your BATNA because the BATNA influences the way in which you conduct the negotiations and help to negotiate effectively and hence selecting the BATNA in the circumstance.

Final Remarks

Negotiation is a process in which parties to a dispute discuss possible outcomes directly with each other.

It typically takes place because the parties wish to create something new that neither could do on his or her own, or to resolve a problem or dispute between them.

The parties acknowledge that there is some conflict of interest between them and think they can use some form of influence to get a better deal, rather than simply taking what the other side will voluntarily give them and by considering the factors explained above they may successfully negotiate.



Sander, G., and Rogers (1992) Dispute Resolution: Negotiation, Mediation, and Other Processes 2nded. Little Brown ISBN 0316319384, 9780316319386

Myneni, S.R. (2004). Arbitration, Conciliation and ADR system, Asia Law House: Hyderabad.

Ordover, A.P., and Doneff, A. (2002). Alternatives to Litigation: Mediation, Arbitration, and the Art of Dispute Resolution, (2nd ED.), NITA: America

Isack Kimaro
Isack Kimaro

Editor-in-chief and founder of Holder of Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) and Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. Lawyer by profession and blogger by passion