Blanchard & Walker Weekly

Topic of the Week  War of the Roses--Steps to Take Before a Negotiation

DO examine your baggage.
DO examine their baggage.
DO look at your wants and needs.
DON'T forget what's next.

Is it just me, or does it seem like we all spend most of our time negotiating with people at work? Negotiating about assignments, deadlines, salary, you name it. Which reminds me of a great George Carlin quote about the difference between men and women. Carlin observed, "Women are crazy and men are stupid. The reason that women are crazy is that men are stupid." Guilty as charged.

This also takes place in many negotiations. One side thinks the other side is crazy, while the other side thinks the people they're negotiating with are stupid. This dynamic doesn't lead to a productive negotiation. That's why I've included three Do's and one Don't to help you get more out of your next negotiation, for everyone involved. Sure this will take some effort, but your results will more than make up for it. For more, check out "No" by Jim Camp (Crown, 2007).

DO examine your baggage. We all have baggage, each and every one of us. So the best place to start is with a long look in the mirror. Are you impulsive? Or are you scared to act? Or do you need a change of venue? "Know thyself" is key to getting the results you'd like to see. So how do you learn about your baggage? Ask people who know you well to level with you. Talk to people who you've negotiated with in the past. Go online and do an informal survey of colleagues and people who've reported to you, Survey Monkey is an easy place to start.

DO examine their baggage. Okay, now that you have a good view of yourself, you need to cross the table to understand the other side's baggage. What is important to the person you're negotiating with? What isn't that important? A great question to ask is what would it take for them to win? Most rookie negotiators see it as a zero sum game, one side wins so that means the other side must lose. But that is overly simplistic, often there are things that one side can surrender for a relatively small cost.

DO look at your wants and needs. This is a key distinction that is often overlooked. Sure we all have a wish list and it's great when we can get stuff we really want. But it is equally important to know what you need. I'll resist quoting the Rolling Stones here, so suffice it to say that clearly being able to distinguish between wants and needs will make you a much more effective negotiator.

DON'T forget what's next. Is this a one-time negotiation or will you have to negotiate again? What is the action plan, who will need to do what moving forward? How will the results be measured? You always need to take into consideration the steps that must be taken after the negotiation.

Follow these tips and you'll feel that the people you're negotiating with aren't stupid or crazy, just someone doing their job. Remarkably like you.

About The Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"In business, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate."

–Chester L. Karrass

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