My Five Golden Rules of Negotiation provide the essential building blocks for every negotiation. They are:
1. Information Is Power—So Get It
2. Maximize Your Leverage
3. Employ “Fair” Objective Criteria
4. Design an Offer-Concession Strategy
5. Control the Agenda
These Five Golden Rules provide the procedural framework for all effective negotiations. It’s equally important to know when and where and how to apply these Golden Rules. Let’s consider the first two in more detail:
Golden Rule One: Information Is Power – So Get It
The ﬁrst Golden Rule is essential to success in any negotiation: Information Is Power—So Get It! It’s critical to ask questions and get as much relevant information as you can throughout the negotiation process. You need sufﬁcient information to set aggressive, realistic goals and to evaluate the other side’s goals. With this information in your pocket, you’ve got the power. Without it you will be scrambling.
Self-described “expert” negotiators often enter negotiations with arguments intended to persuade the other side of the legitimacy of their positions. Unknowingly, they’re giving up power from the ﬁrst time they open their mouths. I will take an effective questioner and listener over a talker in almost any negotiation. Negotiation power goes to those who listen and learn.
Golden Rule Two: Maximize Your Leverage
How much do you want or need that item on the table? How much does your counterpart need it? What are your and your counterpart’s alternatives if you don’t reach agreement? What can you do to strengthen your leverage before and during the negotiation? How can you weaken your counterpart’s leverage? What might your counterpart be doing at the same time? Finally, are you exercising your leverage in an appropriate fashion?
Finding the answers to these leverage questions as early as possible in the process can be the key to success. Ignoring them can be a recipe for disaster. Next, we’ll a closer look at the remaining Golden Rules.