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Five Tips for Successful Negotiations: Part I

As a lawyer I negotiate on behalf of my Clients every day. It’s a central part of my job. The fact is however that it’s not just attorney’s who negotiate daily all of us do.

negotiating contracts

Whether you realize it or not, you negotiate all of the time. You negotiate with your employer about pay, vacations, benefits, lunch breaks, and duties. We negotiate with our co-workers, spouses, and friends. I negotiate with my wife every year about where we go on vacation, because we like different things. Of course, my Wife always wins, but I still enjoy the exercise.

Why Negotiation is Critical

Negotiating is basically an effort by two or more parties with competing interest to come to an agreement while protecting those interests.

In other words, one party wants one thing, the other wants something else.

It can be as simple as the purchase price of a car where the salesman wants the most money for the car and the buyer wants to pay the least. Or it could be you dealing with vendors or salespeople at work. The negotiation can involve hundreds of issues such as are involved in complicated corporate mergers or sales agreements, or as simple as choosing between the Caribbean and a skiing trip.

Tactics for a Successful Negotiation

There are a million different books and schools of thought dealing with effective negotiation strategies and some are quite good. Over my twelve years of practicing law, however, I have developed my own short-hand method of explaining and planning for a negotiation and it works very well in most situations. Naturally, more complicated or specialized negotiations will require more work and more a more thorough discussion, however for the individual that is new to negotiating or wants to improve; the attorneys at The Doyle Law Group, P.A. have put together five tips.

Below are the first two tips, with the last three coming in part 2 of Five Tips for Successful Negotiations.

Tip 1: Prepare. I know, I know, you already know that. But it bears repeating.

The ignorant negotiator will be exposed in minutes and lose all credibility. Before I negotiate any case, I study the facts and make summary notes. If I am not already familiar with the law and case law on the issue, I become familiar and make sure I can cite controlling statute and case law by name and talk about the intricate details of the issue.

If you prepare properly, I suggest you speak early, and demonstrate your grasp of the facts and issues. This will disarm the equally prepared opponent and intimidate the unprepared opponent.

For example:

In everyday life this principal can be applied by studying up on the car you want by learning all the options available, packages, and online prices. Call and get some prices over the phone at other dealerships as well. Make detailed notes and when you walk into the dealership blast the salesman early and often with what you know and tell them early on of what your best price was and BEGIN there. Very soon you will be speaking with a “manager” and the original salesman will skulk into the background in defeat.

This does not guarantee a better price, but it certainly improves your chances and will save you time.

Tip 2: Define Your Goals Before You Start. After you have done your research, set your goals.

I typically prepare the “ideal” scenario with my Client, and then move to “minimum” scenario that we can accept.

This needs to be done before the negotiation begins but after you have thoroughly prepared and a fully armed with the information you need to know a good deal from a bad one. Then, before the negotiation, when you are thinking clearly, calmly and rationally, you set your high and low bars. A negotiation can be like an auction where your emotions can get the best of you.

Sometime the behavior of your opponent will anger you and cause you to reject a good deal, or sometimes their behavior can depress or disarm you causing you to accept a bad deal by wearing you down.

Do NOT let that happen!

Naturally, if you get new information you may have to change your calculus, but that should not happen if you are prepared, and typically your opponent will only spring new information at a negotiation if it is a bluff or so weak it will not hold up to scrutiny.

When an opposing attorney hands me a report or piece of evidence at a negotiation I will not read it in front of them. Of course I always request any information they want me to consider in the negotiation before hand to provide some cover, and therefore I will not play the ambush game. I ignore it and pretend like it does not exist, at least until I leave the room.

The important thing to remember here is to set your goals and limits and stick to them.

More Negotiating Tips to Come

These are just the first two tips, with three more to go. Be sure to check back often to find the second part and check out the rest of our blog posts on a wide range of legal topics.

Contact a Raleigh Law Firm to Help You Negotiate Your Case

If you need legal assistance just call our office or fill out the contact form on our website, and a member of the The Doyle Law Group, P.A. team will contact you shortly.

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