Occasionally, we get an inquiry that goes something like, “We’re looking for ‘Negotiation Training’.”.

Isn’t that a terrible place to start?

First, says that one of the roots is “lack of leisure,” from neg- “not” + otium “ease, leisure.”

Excuse me! Lack of leisure? No wonder I never thought that negotiation was a good thing. Who wants a lack of leisure?

Some of the synonyms listed on are arbitration, compromise, debate, intervention, and mediation.

Arbitration? Mediation? We need a third party to decide?

Intervention? Huh? You mean like one of us is an addict and our friends have to get us in a room to get us clean? Who needs the intervention, the negotiator or the negotiatee? (Is that even a word?)

Debate? If anyone starts a debate in the sales process, it’s over!

Best for last….Compromise? I’m totally willing to compromise as long as I we do it 100% my way! No, seriously, if I’m willing to compromise, doesn’t that mean that my first solution wasn’t an expert recommendation and therefore a bad recommendation? I’m the expert. I don’t make bad recommendations.

In summary, to me, negotiation implies confrontation and two sides and if you are truly seen as an expert, there will be no negotiation because your prospect will believe that you are on their side. If you ever feel like you’re in a negotiation, maybe you should look to see how you got to second base.

6 thoughts on “Negotiation

  1. If one has to negotiate, one has not likely gotten to 2nd base (no SOB quality established). A test of whether or not one is on 2nd is the inoffensive close:- Do you believe I understand your issues, problems etc?- Do you believe I can solve/help solve your problems?- Would you like my help?If the answer to all three questions is yes, one is likely at 2nd and on their way to qualifying and closing. Mike Eagan

  2. Is there another type of negotiation that might be acceptable, even (maybe “especially”) in an advisory relationship? How about this common situation in a custom manufacturing environment (feel free to multiply these numbers by 100, 1000, or any other power of ten you like): My customer has told me that the budget for his new product is $20. The features list that he has given me puts my price at $25. Now, I’ll guide him through a negotiation to determine which is flexible, the budget or the requirements. Am I negotiating? Am I facilitating his negotiation with his own desires? Am I pushing him to negotiate with his stakeholders?

  3. As Director of Negotiation Programs for MWI, I feel compelled to comment on this post. Unfortunately, many view “negotiation” similarly to the definition provided in this post. Confrontation, compromise, winning, losing, etc. However, MWI defines “negotiation” a little more broadly. Negotiations happen, in our opinion, any time two or more parties get together to reach an agreement. Any agreement. How much to pay for services, when a project should be due, where to go for lunch, which vendor to select. In other words, “negotiating” occurs hundreds of times a day, any time a decision is being made. I’ve heard a proposition that, by definition, a good negotiation occurs when both parties leave equally unhappy. Why? Because they’ll each have pushed the other to their limits. Unfortunately, when both parties leave unhappy, the chances of them sticking to their agreement and following through to mutual satisfaction is slim to none. Instead, MWI promotes the collaborative model of negotiation, as defined at the Harvard Negotiation Project and captured in the bestseller Getting To Yes by Fisher, Ury and Patton. This model promotes the idea that it’s possible to get what you want in a negotiation AND maintain the long term working relationship (by helping to make sure the other side gets what they need as well). The model applies in external negotiations (with vendors, competitors, clients and colleagues) as well as internal negotiations (managers, project management, HR). For more information about this model, feel free to contact me at 800-348-4888 x24 or at

  4. Stephen,
    First, I am honored and pleased that someone in your position felt “compelled” to do anything by a post that I wrote.
    I agree with much of what you wrote. Having spent 20+ years in debt collection, I’ve seen how ‘negotiated agreements where both parties leave equally unhappy’ end up. Customers become unsold and stop paying. Vendors may feel that they continue to be pushed to give more for less and wish they never made the ‘deal’ in the first place.Coming from that background, my point in the post is that if the selling process is perfect, no negotiation is necessary.Here’s an example. You go see your regular doctor that you’ve been seeing for years. He identifies some issue as a problem and recommends a solution. If he’s done a good job of identifying the issue, pointing out the consequences, earned your trust as an advisor and created an appropriate level of urgency, then you will move forward and follow his advice.If you are a negotiator, you may ask for a second opinion, ask him if he could do better on his price, or some other concession on his part.Guess what kind of doctor I coach my clients to be.Thanks again for reading and commenting and please feel free to continue.

  5. Thanks Rick. This is merely a technicality, but by MWI’s definition, in every selling process (and indeed, every decision being made between two or more people), a negotiation is taking place. Choosing not to haggle or bargain down in a negotiation because other needs are being met, doesn’t make your interaction any less of a negotiation. Let me explain using your doctor example – In every negotiation, it’s important to understand one’s needs and interests. Going to see a doctor, one is probably interested in many factors besides price, including: trust, efficiency, reliability, history, comfort, etc. By having these needs met with the doctor you’ve been seeing for years, you’ve simply chosen not to bargain down on price (the doctor’s rates are probably comfortable, fair and accurate in the market) or find a second opinion because so many of your needs have been met already (and are most likely not going to be met by another doctor). I’d use this same example with a trusted family mechanic. This is something I spend a lot of my time on in my business and I hope I’m being clear with this example. By properly identifying all of your needs through careful systematic preparation, and then making sure all of your needs are met, there is often no need to find a second opinion or to haggle. However, I would still call that a negotiation – and a very successful one at that. Happy to continue the conversation. Thanks for engaging.Stephen

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