top of page

3 Things Expert Negotiators Keep in Mind

Based on the Book Getting to Yes by Fisher, Ury, & Patton

#1 We Are All Human

Expert negotiators are those who have come to understand one of the deeper elements of negotiation is that

“The most powerful interests are basic human needs” (Fisher, Ury, & Patton, pg. 1109)

These include:

  • A sense of security.

  • Economic well being.

  • A sense of belonging.

  • Recognition.

  • Control over one’s life (autonomy).

In salary negotiations, these basic human needs are easy to overlook. And in many negotiations, we forget to think about what lies beyond the reasoning for the numbers.

The authors uses this example;

“In one Baseball salary negotiation, the GM kept insisting that $500,000 was simply too much for a particular player, although other teams were paying at least that much for similarly talented players. In fact, the manager felt his position was unjustifiable, BUT he had strict instructions from the club’s owners to hold firm without explaining why, because they were in financial difficulties they wanted to hide from the public.” (Fisher, Ury, & Patton, pg. 1109)

Remembering to think more about what is behind the other side’s words and numbers. So that when they say "NO" to something, think about why are they saying no – could it relate to one of the basic human needs?

This is why asking questions is so important.

  • Can you tell me a little more about why we can’t make this number or this agreement work?

  • What is your concern for saying yes?

  • And so on.

Don't take push backs or "NO's" personally and try to remain non-defensive in your responses as possible, as people tend to become more solidified in their positions rather than trying to work through the problem.

Remember that the person sitting across the negotiating table from you also has dreams and goals as well as worries, fears, and problems of their own, No matter how hard it is to empathize with them, doing so will always result in a better negotiation.

Power Dynamics

Negotiations often seem so daunting because there are often large differences in who holds the power.

Boss over Employee is a classic example of a difference in power dynamics. Asking for anything, especially money is not easy because the other side holds the power and authority to give it to you.

“The better your BATNA, the greater your power! People think of negotiating power as being determined by resources like wealth, political connections, physical strength, friends, and military might. In fact, the relative negotiating power of two parties depends primarily on how attractive to each is the option of not reaching an agreement."(Fisher, Ury, & Patton, pg. 1933)

This is why having a BATNA is so vital, it gives you other options of what to do if an agreement is not made.

Of course, it also means you have to also think of what the other side’s BATNA is. What are their alternatives?

People are not the problem

Remember to be soft on people and hard on problems. Participants of negotiation should come to see themselves as working side by side, attacking the problem, not each other.

"By separating the people from the problem." (Fisher, Ury, & Patton, pg. 500)

Thinking of your salary negotiation as something you and your boss are working on together, rather than against will help re-frame what your attitude will be in the negotiation.



bottom of page