The Power of Preparation Always Makes a Difference

What is the most universally ignored but most effective negotiation tool? Preparation. I conclude every one of my seminars with this statement:

“Prepare, Prepare, Prepare. It’s guaranteed to succeed. The more you prepare, the better you will do.” Most people fail to sufficiently prepare. We have the best of intentions, but we lead busy lives and jump into ne­gotiations without adequately exploring the many avenues down which negotiations may proceed. Renowned UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” He’s right. Adequate preparation will not only make a difference, it will make the difference.

Negotiation research unmistakably illustrates the concrete value of preparation. Yet, many individuals still inadequately or ineffectively prepare.

Businesspeople comprehensively analyze every substantive element of a deal and engage in weeks of due diligence to ensure they don’t miss a substantive point. Trial lawyers spend an enormous amount of time preparing opening statements and cross-examinations. They even map out what they will wear each day in court.

But most lawyers and businesspeople give short shrift to the “process” element of the negotiation. They will know the substance but wing it when it comes to preparing for the actual steps in the negotiation. To con­sistently get what you want in negotiations, you must marry the substance to the process. Adequate preparation – on both substance and process – is essential to success.

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