Negotiation Guide: Build Long-lasting Relationships

Negotiation Guide: Build Long-lasting Relationships

Negotiation is an essential skill for entrepreneurs. Drawing from Chris Voss’s “Never Split the Difference,” Robert Cialdini’s “Influence,” and Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends & Influence People,” this guide provides a step-by-step approach with practical examples to enhance your negotiation skills.

1. Preparation: The Foundation of Successful Negotiation

Effective negotiation begins with thorough preparation. Understand not only your objectives and limits but also those of your counterpart. This involves deep research into their business model, recent successes or failures, and market positioning. Such insights enable you to anticipate their needs and tailor your approach accordingly.

Example: Before negotiating a partnership deal, research the potential partner’s recent ventures, press releases, and market position. This knowledge can reveal what they might value in your offering.

2. Building Rapport: The Carnegie Approach

Dale Carnegie emphasizes the importance of building rapport. Begin your negotiations by finding common ground, showing genuine interest, and establishing a connection. This sets a collaborative, rather than adversarial, tone.

Example: Start a negotiation by discussing a shared interest, like a recent industry event, to create a friendly atmosphere. This rapport makes the subsequent conversation more open and cooperative.

3. Leverage the Principle of Reciprocity

Cialdini's principle of reciprocity suggests that a small gesture of goodwill can make the other party more inclined to respond in kind. This could be in the form of information sharing, flexibility in terms, or other concessions.
Example: Offer a helpful market insight or a minor concession early in the discussion. This act can lead the other party to reciprocate with valuable information or flexibility in their terms.

4. Active Listening: A Key Skill

Active listening, a concept emphasized by Voss, is crucial. It involves hearing the words spoken and understanding the underlying concerns and emotions. This fosters trust and opens up the dialogue for more profound insights.

Example: If your counterpart expresses concerns about scalability, mirror this by saying, “So, scalability is a major concern for you?” This shows you're listening and prompts them to elaborate.

5. Establishing Authority and Scarcity

Cialdini’s principles of authority and scarcity are crucial in negotiations. You are positioning your product or service as unique and your expertise as authoritative, which can significantly enhance its perceived value.

Example: Highlight unique aspects of your service, like an innovative feature, and explain how it’s rare in the market. This establishes your authority and makes your offering more desirable.

6. Aim for Win-Win Solutions

Negotiations should aim for mutually beneficial outcomes. This approach, suggested by Carnegie, ensures a fair deal and builds the foundation for long-term business relationships.

Example: If negotiating a contract, suggest terms that benefit you and offer clear advantages to the other party, such as shared marketing efforts to enhance brand visibility.

7. Tactical Empathy: Voss’s Secret Weapon

Understanding and articulating the other party's perspective, a tactic championed by Voss, helps create a connection and make them feel heard, which can lead to more favorable outcomes.

Example: If the other party seems hesitant, acknowledge it by saying, “It seems like you have some reservations.” This shows understanding and can lead them to open up about their concerns.

8. Commitment and Consistency: The Psychological Edge

People value consistency in their commitments. Utilize this psychological principle by securing small agreements early, leading to more extensive commitments later in the negotiation.

Example: Start by agreeing on smaller, non-controversial points. This sets a pattern of agreement, making it easier to get consensus on larger issues.

9. Mastering the Art of Handling Objections

Handling objections is an art. Respect the other party’s opinions and gently guide them to see your perspective without confrontation, following Carnegie's advice.

Example: If faced with a pricing objection, instead of disagreeing, ask, “What challenges does this pricing present?” This approach respects their viewpoint and opens a dialogue to address concerns.

10. Negotiating Price: A Delicate Balance

Negotiating price is a delicate matter. Use calibrated questions to guide your counterpart in considering their problem of paying your price, a strategy recommended by Voss.

Example: Ask, “What would make this price work for you?” This prompts the other party to consider possible solutions or compromises, rather than a flat rejection.

11. Closing with Confidence

The closing phase is as crucial as the opening. Summarize key agreements, reiterate mutual benefits, and clearly outline the following steps, ensuring a positive end to the negotiation.

Example: Summarize the agreement points and express how the deal benefits both parties. For instance, “We both agree on X and Y, which helps us achieve Z together.”

12. Reflect and Learn

Post-negotiation reflection is crucial for continuous improvement. Analyze your performance, understand what worked and what didn’t, and use these insights to hone your skills for future negotiations.

Example: After a negotiation, review the process. Did you concede too quickly on a point? How did your preparation help? Use these insights to refine your approach for future negotiations.


Negotiation is a dynamic and crucial skill for entrepreneurs. By incorporating these steps and examples into your approach, you can negotiate more confidently and effectively. Remember, every negotiation is a learning opportunity to refine your skills and grow as an entrepreneur. Use these strategies to build lasting relationships, understand people, and create enduring value in your business ventures.

Suggested Reading

To further hone your negotiation and business skills, consider delving into the following books:

  1. "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" by Roger Fisher and William Ury - This classic book introduces the concept of principled negotiation, focusing on mutual interests instead of positions.
  2. "Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People" by G. Richard Shell offers a comprehensive guide to effective negotiating strategies and tactics underpinned by a keen understanding of human psychology.
  3. "The Art of Negotiation: How to Improvise Agreement in a Chaotic World" by Michael Wheeler - Wheeler explores the improvisational nature of negotiation and provides strategies for adapting and thriving in unpredictable situations.
  4. "Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results at the Bargaining Table and Beyond" by Deepak Malhotra and Max H. Bazerman - This book offers insightful strategies for tackling challenging negotiation situations and achieving outstanding outcomes.
  5. "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion" by Robert B. Cialdini - While already mentioned, this book is a must-read for understanding the fundamental influence principles critical in negotiation and beyond.

These books will give you a deeper understanding of the nuances of negotiation and enhance your ability to navigate complex business interactions successfully.