Learn how to teach negotiation skills within an organization through these negotiation training tips from the experts at the The Gap Partnership


An executive sits waiting for the meeting. The chair is hard and uncomfortable and the reception area stark. He has signed in and been issued with a pass. He fidgets with it nervously. He sits waiting anxiously to see who will collect and take him to the conference room. The marble floor is polished to a high shine and it glistens in the morning sun streaming through the glass turnstile door.


He looks down at his polished shoes, slightly worn from trekking around to client meetings across the city, and swallows hard. The knot in his stomach refuses to settle, and he's relieved that he couldn't manage breakfast, convinced the tension might make him sick.


Eventually, after what seems like days, but has only been an excruciating 75 minutes, the lift opens and the customer strides out.


Inside the conference room the atmosphere is cold, and not because the air conditioning has been turned down. Nobody speaks. The large oak table fills the room and its mass echoes the weight of expectation.


The executive opens his mouth to speak and for a moment nothing happens. After a pause he makes his statement: "We have carefully reviewed the market, and have put together a proposal that reflects our assessment of the value and the opportunity, given the pressure you are under and the competitive nature of the circumstances."


Across the table nobody moves. The eyebrows furrow and the scowls remain. Otherwise, silence. Their reputation for dominance is hard won through years of experience. The stories shared by executives, which seemed far-fetched, suddenly come into sharp focus.


Our executive responds: "I am now going to set out our position."


For the next 15 minutes he carefully and precisely sets out the business position across all of the variables. Each proposal is greeted by shakes of disbelief, murmurs of rebellion, and guffaws. Finally the man in the centre of the table tightens the knot in his tie, places both hands on the table and laughs. "You must be mad!", he exclaims.


At that moment the room suddenly feels overwhelming, huge and intimidating. Has he got this completely wrong? Perhaps this deal will collapse. The knot in his stomach tightens again and he shifts in the leather covered wooden chair.


He looks up directly at the laughing man, unsure of what to do. Then looks to his left.


His negotiation team leader looks back, nods reassuringly and leans in. "This is exactly what we expected, we are on plan, don't get distracted”, he states calmly. A feeling of calm suddenly washes over him, a confidence that flows down the team, the four of them sitting together, united, aligned and organised. Like a well-oiled machine prepared and serviced.


He looks down at his negotiation plan. The carefully set out variables, the priorities for both sides, the layers of proposals, the options. He sits up, looks directly into the eyes of the man across from him and restates everything.


Does the story sound familiar? Do parts of it echo more than others? The first part, the panic, the fear? Or the end where confidence replaces stress through the clarity of a plan and the support of a team?


This story reflects the story of many negotiators around the world. Or it should.


Have a plan, stick to it. The mantra that protects you like armour when the other party challenges your ideas.


Process is often abandoned by time-poor, idea-rich, smart individuals who due to their achievements have confidence in their ability. The problem is that facing you are similarly time-poor, idea-rich, smart individuals who have confidence in their abilities due to their achievements.


The difference between getting the deal you aspire to and settling for any old agreement is the plan.




Go and get information about the market, the customer, the individuals you are doing business with. Understand their circumstances today, their personal goals and the language they like to hear.




What is their strategy? What are their priorities? What are their goals? How are they going to behave? How will they react to us?




What alternatives are there for us and them? How accessible are they? How much do we know about them compared to what they know of us? What are the deadlines? What significant events are happening that will affect decision making?




What are the trading variables? What are the priorities? What are our breakpoints? What is our opening? What concessions are we going to make? When will we make them?




What information are we going to share to strengthen our position? How can we set their expectations?


Negotiators able to answer these questions have a solid plan. If they stick to it, it not only provides confidence, it aligns the organisation behind the team and can give them the edge when the heat is on.


Planning is not boring. Planning is what becomes part of the DNA of the most successful negotiators in the world. You will recognise them. They look serene as the meeting unfolds, quietly laying out their position and controlling the situation.


Try it, then look in the mirror – it’s you.



Author's Bio: 

Akash is a graduate from Delhi University. He loves to write articles on career development and growth.