The single biggest tool in any negotiation is the ability to get up and walk away from the table without a deal.

  1. Never accept any proposal immediately, no matter how good it sounds.
  2. Never negotiate with yourself. Once you’ve made an offer, if the other party doesn’t accept it, don’t make another offer. Get a counter offer. It’s a sign of weakness when you lower your own demands without getting your opponent to lower theirs.
  3. Never cut a deal with someone who has to “go back and get the boss’s approval.” That gives the other side two bites of the apple to your one. They can take any deal you are willing to make and renegotiate it.
  4. If you can’t say yes, it’s no. Just because a deal can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done. No one ever went broke saying “no” too often.
  5. Just because it may look nonnegotiable, doesn’t mean it is. Take that beautifully printed “standard contract” you’ve just been handed. Many a smart negotiator has been able to name a term and get away with it by making it appear to be chiseled in granite, when they will deal if their bluff is called.
  6. Do your homework before you deal. Learn as much as you can about the other side. Instincts are no match for information.
  7. Rehearse. Practice. Get someone to play the other side. Then switch roles. Instincts are no match for preparation.

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