Copyright notice at bottom

Negotiation Techniques
Dr. Beverly Potter
Copyright material. See notice at bottom

Basic Principles:

Involve all concerned parties
Gather information first
Negotiate second

Information Gathering Tools

Active Listening

Communicate interest: "I want to understand your view."
Builds rapport: "He wants to hear my side."
Use gestures & sounds to show listening.

Repeat Technique
Repeat the vague word with inflection: "This is difficult?" "Difficult?"

Other will clarify repeated word.
Builds rapport: "She's listening to my concerns."
Draws other out.

    Open-ended questions
      Begins with who, what, when, where, how, in what way,
      in which way, under what conditions.
      Avoid "Why?" Sounds judgement. Makes people defensive.

    Keep other talking. Can't answer with yes or no, must expound.

    Avoid leading questions - questions that have content or contain the answer.

      Poor: "Do you think that . . . ?" Better: "What do you think?"
      Poor: "Did she say that . . . ?" Better: "What did he say?"
      Best: "What happened?"

    Avoid closed questions
      Can be answered with yes or no.
      Closed questions are leading questions.
      They begin with "Did . . .?" "Will . . .?" "Are . . ?"
      "Isn't . . . ?" "Wasn't . . .?" "Weren't . . .?"

Check Out
    Be tentative. Don't tell; ask.
      "Do you mean . . . ?"
      "I get the feeling . . .?"
      "Am I right in saying . . ?"
      "Tell me if I understand, do you . . .?"
      You are seeking a yes/no confirmation of your check out.

    Specific Check Out
      Check understanding of general statement with a specific possibility.
        Statement: "This design has a lot of problems."

        Specific Check Out: "Do you mean you think it has build in bias."

    General Check Out
      Check out understanding of a specific statement with a generalization.
        Statement: "This data is incomplete, inconsistent, and gathered
        under questionable conditions."

        Specific Check Out: "Do you mean you think the design is flawed?"

    Feeling Check Out
      Check out your perception of other's feelings. "Do you mean you feel . . .?"
        Statement: "This data is a mess and it's been dumped on me with no warning."

        General Check Out: "Do you mean you feel discouraged?"

      Uncovers concerns and interests
Use with active listening - such as nodding silently
Use when other is on the topic

Review & Sum Up
"Let me see if I've got it." + State point 1, point 2, point 3
"To summarize . . . " + State point 1, point 2, point 3
End with "Is there anything else?"
"Do I understand correctly?"
Signals when to go to brainstorming solutions.

Give Information

Describe Your Concerns

    Tell the problem as you see it
      State "Just the facts, Ma'am."
      Be specific: avoid vague words -describe situations, behaviors or outcomes
      Be objective; avoid judgemental and emotional labels
      Be concise; don't ramble and repeat
      Describe one issue at a time
      Don't defend and justify

Express your interests and feelings
Use "I" statements - "What X happens, I feel . . . ."
Avoid speculating on other's motives. Don't blame.

Negotiate an Action Plan

Elicit suggestions

Ask: "What do you suggest?"

Allow face saving

Check with all parties involved

"She suggests that . . . . What do you think of that?"

If rejected, elicit a suggestion

"If that doesn't work for you. What do you suggest?"
Concentrate on what you each will do.
Specify behaviors and outcomes

Get agreement from all parties involved
Don't demand equal give and take
Avoid limited pie approach; go for win-win
Best when written and signed by all parties involved

Review and Sum Up Action Plan
"I will XYZ and you will RST. Is that agreed?"

"This looks like a good plan. You deserve a lot of credit for it?"

Schedule Follow Up
Don't expect perfection. Renegotiate to fine tune

Copyright 1995: Beverly A. Potter. From From Conflict To Cooperation: How To Mediate A Dispute, by Dr. Beverly Potter, Ronin Publishing, Berkeley, CA. This mateiral may be copies for personal use. Any other use requires permission from Beverly Potter. To request permission to reprint, contact Beverly Potter, ph: 510/420-3669, fax: 510/420-3672, email: