1. Know what you’re doing. - Sounds simple, but I’ve seen a lot of instances where I couldn’t believe how much the other side didn’t know. I immediately knew I could have a grand slam and fast, just based on their apparent lack of preparation. My father used to tell me, “Know everything you can about what you’re doing.” He was absolutely right, and I’m giving you the same advice. Follow it.
2. Remember, it takes a lot of smarts to play dumb. This is a good way to see how much your negotiating partners don’t know. It’s also a good way to see if they are bulldozing you.
3. Keep them a bit off balance. What they don’t know won’t hurt you, and that may help you down the line. Knowledge is power, so keep as much of it to yourself as possible.
4. Trust your instincts. There are a lot of situations that will not be black and white in negotiating, so go with your gut. Combine this with your homework and you’ll be ahead of the game.
5. Don’t be confined by expectations. There are no exact rules, and sometimes I’ve changed course in the middle of negotiations when something new has occurred to me. Remain flexible and open to new ideas, even when you think you know exactly what you want. This attitude has provided me with opportunities that I would not have thought about before.
6. Know when to say no. This has become instinct for me by now, but I think we all know when that buzzer goes off inside. Pay attention to that signal.
7. Be patient. I’ve waited for some deals for decades, and it was worth the wait. But make sure what you’re waiting for is worth it to begin with.
8. To speed up negotiations, be indifferent. That way you’ll find out if the other side is eager to proceed.
9. Remember that in the best negotiations, everyone wins. This is the ideal situation to strive for. You will also be laying the ground work for future business deals with people who know what integrity is.
In summing up, I can say that negotiation is an art. All the arts require discipline, technique, and a dose of imagination to take them beyond the realm of the ordinary. Don’t be an ordinary negotiator when you can be an extraordinary one. Devote time to this art and it can bring you enormous rewards.