The Ten Commandments of Negotiation

Thou Shalt Do Thine Own Research, ascertaining thine own market value and learning what thine bargaining partner wishes to accomplish, to whom she must answer, what interests she must satisfy and what she most fears and desires.

Thou Shalt Make the First Proposal, framing thine own goods or services in the most favorable light and anchoring high enough to give thee sufficient room to make at least three bargained-for concessions.

Thou Shalt Ask Thine Bargaining Partner Open-Ended Questions to learn that which thine own research cannot ascertain, assuring thine bargaining partner that two canst make a better deal for both than either canst serve thine own needs alone.

Thou Shalt

Name Thine Own Concessions

and Beseech Thine Bargaining Partner to


with the same degree of difficulty with which thine own concessions were made.

Thou Shalt Make No Assumptions, actively listening to thine bargaining partner by beseeching her to share her desires, needs, fears, preferences, priorities, constraints and hidden stakeholders for the purpose of better understanding what thou might deliver to her and she might trade with thee to increase both thine fortunes.

Thou Shalt Log Roll, offering to trade items of low cost to thee but high value to thine bargaining partner and seeking items of high value to thee but low cost to thine bargaining partner.

Thou Shalt Not Split the Baby, as the story of the wise King Solomon teaches us. Offering to split the baby demonstrates indifference to the welfare of the value being bargained for, besmirching thine honor. It has oft been said – indeed it has been written – that any yutz with ears can divide by two.

Thou Shalt Separate the People from the Problemwhen the bargaining gets tough, being soft on thy bargaining partner but hard on the problem to be solved.

Thou Shalt Give Principled Reasons for Each New Request or Counter-Offer, remembering that the difference in compliance rates between no reason and a nonsensical reason is only one percent while the difference in compliance between no reason and any reason is thirty three percent.

Thou Shalt Close even if thou hast not reached complete agreement with thine bargaining partner, affirming that which has been agreed upon, scheduling a time and date to return to the bargaining table, and assuring thine bargaining partner that the deal has so many working parts that thou art assured a deal benefiting thee and she will certainly be reached.

I have linked here to many sources, including the Google Books selections of Success as a Mediator for Dummies which contains much negotiation advice that is as beneficial for lay people as it is for mediators.

If you buy Dummies, either in the Kindle or the paperback edition, you’ll have a great index for finding solutions to your most difficult negotiation and dispute resolution challenges. You can also pick up negotiation tips by following the Dummies twitter feed @mediatesuccess or “liking” the book’s Facebook page here.

Thanks to This American Life for giving me the idea of doing a “ten commandments” post this week.

Originally featured on Forbes Woman