For the past few months I have been entangled in prolonged business negotiations. This is not the first time I had to negotiate in my business but it is definitely the first time it lasted so long. The process has been gruelling as well as educational. I will present here, briefly, the distillation of what I have learned.

1. It may be stressful but my first advice would be to delay the process for as long as you can. Do not keep deadlines. Do not follow timelines. This way they will get the point that you are not desperate.

2. Never, ever, offer the asking price. I have learned that the hard way. Once I was desperate to buy a house I loved. So, I decided to cut through the negotiating process and offer the asking price. In the end I lost the house. The owners realised that I wanted it like mad and started piling up extra costs. I shed a lot of tears before I managed to go away from the deal.

3. Negotiations should keep all parties happy, including the intermediaries (estate agents, solicitors, advisors, etc.). If the intermediaries are not happy, they will not work hard enough to close the deal.

4. Do not be the first person to make the offer. Always wait for the other party to make the first move. Sometimes you may get happily surprise, as they would offer more than you expected.

5. Do not back up, after you made your offer. Such a move could cut the negotiations short, prematurely.

6. Do not go to extremes, either offering too much or too little. It may be considered an insult to the other party. You do not want to alienate them from the beginning of the negotiations.

7. Listen carefully to the other party. Try to understand the way they think, the techniques they use, and what their goals are. This information will not be clear or forthcoming. You will need to read between the lines and do some guesswork.

8. Be polite, and, if possible, charming. We always prefer making deals with the people we like, rather than the people we dislike.

9. Do not give any information to the other party. Do not elaborate on your ideas. Do not expose your feelings. Do not reveal your thoughts. Keep your cards close to your chest.

10. Find out what they really need. In most cases, they do not reveal what they need, so that you do not take advantage of the situation.

11. If they offer something you do not like, be verbal about it. Snap at them. Jump off your seat, if possible. Make it known that this is unacceptable and that you are surprised.

12. Do not offer to split the difference, as you will be the loser. Always encourage the other party to split the difference. Afterwards, you should treat that as a new offer.

13. Your final offer should not be a round number. You should offer, let us say, 6.460, instead of 6.500. This way, you will send them the message that there is no room for further negotiations.

I do have a lot more tricks up my sleeve but, I think, I should keep a few of these for myself. After all, you may decide at some point in the future to enter negotiations with me. If I expand any more on this article, I will be greatly disadvantaged. Don’t you think so?

Image Source: Treaty of Trianon Negotiations http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Treaty_of_trianon_negotiations.jpg