There are many types of negotiation strategies and many circumstances under which you may find yourself needing to smartly and soundly negotiate for yourself or others.

Negotiating can be a frightening prospect for some people, and it may be hard to know the best way to approach a negotiation. The good news is that you probably already have a lot of experience negotiating things in your everyday life, whether you realize it or not. After all, negotiation is just another form of communication, a means of problem-solving.

The Two Main Forms of Negotiation

Negotiation theorists generally agree that there are two primary forms of negotiation:

  • Distributive Negotiation: this is also referred to as positional or hard-bargaining negotiating. It generally pertains to a single issue and often ends up with one person walking away with a bigger piece of the pie (usually financial) than the other. An example of this could be in the case of a divorce, where one party walks away with the house, both the cars, alimony and the 401K, where the other party walks away with their frequent flier miles.
  • Integrative Negotiation: this is the softer side of the two forms of negotiation, often referred to as win-win. This form may also be referred to as interest-based, merit-based, or principled negotiation. Essentially this means that all parties walk away happy and with more or less equal pieces of the pie. Additionally, integrative negotiation generally involves multiple moving parts as opposed to a single issue. An example of this could be negotiating a contract upon hiring a new employee. In order to provide them more paid time off, perhaps you negotiate a different salary.

Forging Ahead

Regardless of what form your negotiation is going to take, there are always things to keep in mind. This will ensure that in either scenario, things can go as smoothly as possible and hopefully take some of the anxiety out of the negotiating scenario.

  • Know your limits. You want to go into a negotiation with an open mind and heart, but you don’t want to be taken advantage of, either. If negotiating a salary for a new job, know (and, be honest with yourself and possible employer) what the salary range is that you are willing to accept. This will save you from feeling resentful, later on, if you accept a job making less than what you know you are worth.
  • Be patient. This is not a time for rushing, as that is when rash decisions get made. Make sure that you have allowed enough time for reasonable and thorough negotiations.
  • Be prepared. Walk into your negotiation with a clear proposal as to what you are looking to obtain or achieve and be able to justify those requests. Being well prepared and able to make clear arguments will decrease the likelihood that you walk away with quite a bit less than what you wanted. It will also better enable you to “stick to your guns.”
  • In addition to being prepared with solid arguments, you may also need to be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table. A potential employer may simply not be in the financial position to offer you the salary you want, so you may not be able to reasonably accept the salary that is being offered. This is an example of a time in which you would simply have to walk away, as neither party is going to be able to change their stance, at least not without resentment and potential issues down the road.
  • Buy low, sell high. Don’t be afraid to come out of the barn with extreme requests, provided you are fully aware that they are extreme and you most likely will not get them. The strategy behind this being that it is much easier to start at the top and work your down to a mutually beneficial agreement, rather than starting low and trying to work your way up the negotiating table.

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