Adapted from Articles & Advice Columns
Steven Cohen, President,
The Negotiation Skills Company
Negotiation is a Life Skill
• Everybody negotiates all of the time.
• It helps people reach decisions jointly in a civilized way
Definition of Negotiation
Successful negotiation is a process that yields an agreement,
as part of collaborative decision making, that each party
will willingly fulfill.
The fundamental asset of negotiation is information.
Negotiation is not a competitive sport
Taking a hard line may be fine -- but only in the short term,
and only if you really believe that your counterpart is your
adversary. Before you come up with a “take it or leave it”
approach, consider the consequences.
Negotiation is often a series of episodes, which means that
considering your counterpart as a partner or a collaborator is
the foundation of trusting, fruitful, and ongoing negotiation.
“How the game is played matters more than who wins.”
Steven P. Cohen, Pres., The Negotiation Skills Co.
Negotiating Requires Multiple Steps
1. what you really want, why and how badly you want or
need it, and at what point you're willing to walk away
without getting it.
2. Know what the other party wants and why it's important
3. How much do they need or want what you have to offer?
4. What would make them really happy?
5. Are they being honest & sincere?
This is vital information if you're going to craft a
creative resolution that will satisfy everyone.
Six Stages in the Negotiation Process:
1. Orientation and fact finding
3. Reformulation of strategies
4. Hard bargaining and decision making
5. Agreement, and
Acuff, Frank L. (1997).
How to Negotiate Anything with Anyone
Anywhere Around the World. New York:
American Management Association
Five Levels of Communication
1. Facts – what someone sees, hears, touches, &
perceives the facts to be.
2. Thoughts – what their thoughts about the facts are.
3. Emotions – how they feel because of their thoughts
about the facts.
4. Meaning/Importance – why it’s important to them.
5. Actions/Expectations – what they want.
Information from: Resource International
Eight Pillars of Negotiational Wisdom
by Steven Cohen
1. Be Conscious of the difference between positions and interests. If you can figure out why you want
something - and why others want their outcome - then you are looking at interests.
2. Be Creative. Using brainstorming techniques, listening to outlandish proposals and opening up to
unanticipated possibilities expands agreement opportunities. If you respond with new ideas and do the
unexpected, you can open doors to far greater gains than when you behave predictably. Creativity can
make everyone look good.
3. Be fair. If people feel a process is fair, they are more likely to make real commitments and less likely to
walk away planning ways to wriggle out of the agreement
4. Be prepared to commit. You shouldn't make a commitment unless you can fulfill it. Your commitment
isn't worth much unless the parties to the negotiation are Drop-Dead Decision-Makers. Moreover,
commitment is not likely to result unless all parties feel the process has been fair.
5. Be an active listener. Focus on what others say, both on their words & their underlying meaning.
6. Be conscious of the importance of the relationship. Most of your negotiation is with repeaters, (family,
friends, employers, team mates, etc...).
7. Be aware of BATNAs. BATNA stands for the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. Your
BATNA is the situation you want to improve by negotiating with a given party or set of parties. But
BATNA is not your bottom line. It is a measure of the relative value of negotiating a particular issue with a
particular party -- or whether you can fall back on better alternatives.
8. Be Prepared. In order to negotiate effectively, efficiently, and wisely, it is crucial to prepare. Your job is
not to outline a perfect, total solution; that would be a positional approach. Preparation means studying
the interests and BATNAs of every possible party. It means understanding the short and the long term
consequences you use and the substantive results you pursue. Doing your homework can save a lot of
Good Negotiation Habits
• A key to negotiation is knowing the other party’s primary & 2ndary
• The more info you gather prior to formal negotiations, the better-
prepared you are to negotiate.
• Create an interest map listing the opposing party’s interests in the
outcome & the reasons behind them. It focuses you on the info
you’ll need, the questions you’ll ask & areas of common ground.
• Do a reality check – test the accuracy of your information.
• Ask Questions during the negotiation.
• Hear the other person – listen, focus, ask clarification questions, pay
• Don’t rush to judgment – collaborate & cooperate.
• Be flexible
• The key communication skill in negotiation is to listen.
You have two ears & one mouth – use them in that ratio.
Two Categories of Negotiation
Positional -- someone who is inflexible, says 'my way or the highway',
and who cannot change his/her demands without losing face.
Positional negotiators place their demands on the bargaining table
and expect their negotiation partners (the folks on the other side of
the table) to respond by saying 'yes' or 'no'.
Interest-based -- negotiation focused on the underlying reasons for
pursuing one's negotiation objectives.
Interest-based negotiators try to learn what factors offered by their
negotiation partners will help them achieve their own interests -- and
what those other parties believe the interest-based negotiator can
offer to respond to what they themselves want.
Interest Based Negotiation
• Determine what both parties’ interests are & any other
special interests they might represent.
• It’s not what they want, but why they want it that’s more
• Once the reason behind the other party’s stance is
identified, it becomes much easier to reach common
There aren’t any specific models for negotiating specific kinds
of issues. Each negotiation depends on many issues & may
be amenable to a variety of different approaches.
Negotiation is quite different from flying an airplane. A pilot
must go through a precise pre-flight process before taking
off. There is no room for varying that process.
A good negotiator understands that the process involves
a continuous series of choices as to strategy and
Being locked into one strategy or set of tactics to implement
that strategy weakens a negotiator's capacity to reach wise
solutions in an efficient manner.
Evaluating a Job Offer - Pros and Cons
1. Does the prospective job meet the criteria that I laid out when my job search first began?
2. Will the prospective job improve my level of satisfaction, personally and professionally?
3. Will this job take me down the path that leads to future career and/or personal goals?
Even if money isn't what gives you the most job satisfaction, no one can argue its importance. You need a certain
amount of money to pay the bills, for example. Most of us also want to make sure we are being paid what we're
worth and what is the going rate for jobs similar to ours. It's important to find out what others are making for related
work in the same industry, and in the same geographic region. You can start gathering this information by looking
at salary surveys and other occupational information. And don't forget, if other aspects of the job appeal to you,
you can try to negotiate the offer.
• Office Environment
Every office has a different feel to it. Some feel kind of "dark pin-striped suit" while others feel a little more relaxed.
Years ago I interviewed for an internship in a public relations firm. From the second I set foot in the office I knew I
wanted to work there. There was a big bubble gum machine in the corner and colorful pictures hung on the walls.
A few years later I interviewed for a job at a large investment bank. The office was the complete opposite of the
one I just described. I was interviewed in a formally decorated conference room and given a tour of the department
I'd be working in. It was brightly lit, yet furnished in dull colors. I was offered and accepted both positions and loved
both jobs. As you can see, you can be happy in two totally different environments. You just need to know which
environment you'd be unhappy in.
• Corporate Culture
Defined by Merriam-Webster as "the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes a
company or corporation," corporate culture should be an important factor in your decision whether to accept a job
offer. If you value your time away from the office, a company with a corporate culture that encourages late hours
may not be for you. Is the potential employer's philosophy "win at all costs?" Is your philosophy "always play
clean?" This company isn't for you. Are you an ardent proponent for animal rights? Through your research you
learn that one of the company's subsidiaries does animal testing. Although this won't affect the day-to-day
activities of your job, it may not be a situation in which you'll feel comfortable.
The Best Possible Pay/Benefits Package
• Know your financial needs & what is important to you.
• Look at the company & the general marketplace – do
your research to know what they pay & what other firms
• Find out all you can about the company’s policies about
pay, salary reviews, seniority, & other issues that impact
• Take a piece of paper & list what you want & for each
item, list the reasons WHY each of those objectives is
important to you.
• Aim as high as you feel necessary to gain the best deal
for yourself. It is easier to play down than to gain.
Evaluating a Job Offer - Economics
Compensation will probably be a key factor in your decision. Even if
compensation doesn't rate number one on your list of priorities, you
should at least take it into consideration.
To truly put the economics of your job offer into perspective, all
things must be taken into account. Salary, benefits, and bonuses
should be considered, and if you are moving to a new area, you will
want to figure in relocation expenses and the area's cost of living.
Unless you are motivated only by money, a few extra bucks will
never turn a bad job into a good job.
The best approach is to decide if the job interests you and suits your
needs. Once that has been established, decide your bottom line.
Evaluating a Job Offer - The Bottom Line
• The bottom line is the lowest compensation amount that you would be
willing to accept. For example, if you really want $30,000, but would think
about $28,000 or settle for $26,000, then you haven't actually established a
• Your bottom line needs to be firm and encompass the figure that you would
be willing to walk away from. For example, if you would not be willing to
work for less than $25,000, then your bottom line should be set at $25,001.
Setting a bottom line clarifies your financial goals and makes negotiation
Never reveal your bottom line to a potential employer- wait for them to make
an offer. If they offer you more than your bottom line, feel good about it. If
they offer you less, you have the option of turning it down or better yet, you
can reveal to them what they would need to pay to gain your acceptance.
• Unless you are extremely offended by their offer, negotiation is always
worth a try. Many employers expect it and that's why job applicants often
get low-balled from the start.
• What's the most important thing to consider? Is it salary, health
benefits, or vacation time? Or could it be the corporate culture or the
length or your commute? What about your boss and co-workers --
will working with them be pleasant?
• As you can see there are a number of factors to take into account
and only some are negotiable. You can try to get a higher salary or
more vacation time. However, health benefits are often standard
packages. The corporate culture isn't going to change for you, and
your boss and co-workers aren't going anywhere.
• Each of us, of course, is different. And what carries a lot of weight
for some of us is insignificant to the rest of us.
• Assess your own situation, your interests both short- and long-term.
You should also think about the situation faced by your employer,
both the organization and the individual(s) involved in your salary
• Research comparative salaries paid to others both within the
organization and outside.
Evaluating a Job Offer - The Extras
In some cases, money can present a problem for employers, especially when your salary requirements exceed their
budget or create inequity within their company.
Little known fact: Internal equity issues are the cause of most deals that fail due to financial reasons.
To remedy these problems, look for ways to increase your overall compensation without increasing your salary. Here
are just a few examples of what you can ask for:
• A sign-on bonus
• Performance bonuses (paid in 30, 60, or 90 day intervals after pre-determined goals have been achieved.)
• A relocation bonus /Relocation expenses
• Stock options
• Vacation packages , additional vacation
• Increased vacation time
• Working conditions or location
• Working at home or flexible hours
• Timing on salary increases
• A car lease or purchase
• Parking Space
• An agreement to switch shifts with a coworker
• A sabbatical when the terms aren't clearly spelled out in the employee handbook
• Health insurance: dental, medical, optical
• Long-Term Care Insurance/Disability Insurance
• Retirement Funds
• Flexible Hours
• Tuition reimbursement &/or time away from work for classes
• You can also ask about how their firm handles salary reviews, sign-up bonuses, year-end bonuses, retirement
plans, & other elements of the total compensation package.
Know Your Market Value
• Do some serious homework to know as much as you can about the market value for your
position for people with your experience & qualifications, both in that organization & at others.
Check with others, are they telling everyone the same thing?
• Know the facts about all of the elements of your compensation package: salary, benefits, &
• Figure out how much you are willing to settle for as a guaranteed minimum & how much you
are willing to gamble you can add to the minimum through bonuses, commissions, or overtime.
Weigh short term vs. longer term financial issues.
• When asked “how much pay do you want?” answer with a range that gives the interviewer room
to bargain without offering them space to go below your minimum.
• The old saying is that “the first person who mentions a number loses in the Game of Chicken.”
If they say “name your price” – ask for what you really want. Remember, they expect to
negotiate down from your proposal.
• Bracket the range you are willing to settle within – for example: if you say “high 30’s or low 40’s”
they will work within a range of approximately $37,500-42,500. This is known as the ZOPA –
Zone of Possible Agreement.
• You set up the bargaining range, give them the opportunity to do the bargaining.
• Taking the first offer is often a mistake, as is taking your minimum.
• A pay offer that does not meet your fair expectations should be given a clear response: “Based
on my research I had anticipated receiving an offer in the low 40’s.”
• You can also say something like “I have been thinking about the package we have been
discussing & there are several open issues I would like to re-examine with you.”
Determining Market Value for Experienced Folks
• For more experienced candidates – when asked about their current
income, they may ask what their current income tells the employer
about their value to the employer’s company. They can also ask
what they hope the candidate will provide to the company & what
the value of that contribution is. They may also reply that they are
trying to learn about the job & how the company pays its staff to see
whether the salary reflects the responsibilities the job entails.
• Find out about the transferability of your prior experience – is it
something that will induce them to hire you?
• If the salary doesn’t meet your expectations – give a clear response
- In order to justify changing jobs I need a variety of incentives
including better pay. I had anticipated getting paid something in the
low forties (e.g.$40-45k).
• It’s reasonable to let them know they are your #1 choice, but that
given your salary history & financial responsibilities, you cannot
accept their current offer.
Accepting the Offer
Take things step by step. Focus on what is most important to you – both
short & long-term.
If everything about the employment offer meets your expectations, accept it
as soon as possible. Don't keep you new employer on pins and needles.
Not only does it show a lack of enthusiasm, it also shows a lack of
commitment and professionalism.
Either way, once an offer is on the table, you shouldn't take more than a day
or two to decide. If you have legitimate concerns or questions that need to
be answered, don't hesitate to bring them up before making your decision.
Thinking about the offer doesn't do any good if you don't have all of the
And always keep in mind, if you decide to reject the offer, it may be
impossible to get a second chance at a later date. The position may be
offered to someone else or depending upon how the rejection is handled,
the employer may feel insulted. Whatever you do, make sure your decision
Accepting or Declining the Offer
• Whether you choose to accept or reject a job offer, you must inform
the employer who made that offer.
• This should be done formally, in writing, and if you wish by
telephone as well.
• If your answer is "yes" it's obvious why you'll want to make a good
impression with your future employer.
• But, why is it important to be polite to someone you don't plan to
work for? You don't know where your future will take you. You may
at some point wind up with that employer as a superior, a colleague,
a client, or even your next door neighbor. You certainly don't want to
leave a bad impression.