How to Negotiate without Compromising Everything

How do you feel about this word ‘compromise’? Does it have a positive meaning for you, where you say to yourself “okay great, now we both (or all) will win. I love win-win situations”. Or does the word ‘compromise’ have a negative connotation to you, where you think “oh great, now I have to give up something I really want or something I worked hard for (or otherwise feel entitled to). That is not fair to me. Why can’t the laws of social Darwinism apply, and may the best negotiator win?”

The simple answer is this: When you win, you feel good. When you lose, you feel bad. Now if you have the chance to make another person either feel good or feel bad, what should you do? What is the moral thing to do? Their emotional wellness is in your hands. Be responsible.

You should not willingly cause someone pain, suffering and emotional damage if you can avoid it. That is why I am suggesting you try to preserve people’s dignity and feelings even when negotiating hard.

Notice that I did not say to roll over. It is still quite acceptable to negotiate hard, to use persuasion and influence tactics like NLP, and to protect your interests. What I am specifically saying is to not use unfounded aggression, aggravation or bullying to get your way, whatever the cost.

What is the cost? Could be friendship, business contacts, neighbours, big contracts, or more.

What can we do instead? Negotiate but do not insult. This is the difference between being assertive and aggressive. Assertive people stand up but stay calm. Aggressive people often do not remain calm. They let their emotions overtake them, and the results are often painful. Go after what you want but with respect. Speak with respect and your opponent will have no choice but to respect you. Have a discussion, not an argument.

May the best person win – or may you both or all win!

For more help with negotiations, I can offer these tips:

Top 10 Tips for Successful Negotiations

1 – Be prepared to walk away if your minimum standards are not met.

2 – Be confident, but that does not mean aggressive.

3 – Do not show weaknesses. Find weaknesses in your opponent ahead of time, or even during talks.

4 – Be prepared to give and take, which means being open-minded to new and creative solutions and compromises.

5 – Know your maximums and minimums. Know your fallback position and your deal-breakers. Know your L-I-M: What you would LIKE to have, what you INTEND to have, and what you MUST have. Or you can think of it as the 3Ls: “At Least I’m going to do_____, I’d Like to achieve_____, and I’d Love to achieve_____”

6 – Consider ahead of time their concerns and wants using empathy or inside knowledge. Then confirm using open-ended questions during talks.

7 – Work for a long-term relationship, not short-term solution. Loyalty is hard to come by, so try to build it during negotiations.

8 – Tailor your offering. It is not just about the money. It is emotional as well.

9 – Lead them where they want to go … with imagination. Paint a picture in their minds of the final outcome, the future vision.

10 – Study body language, so you can read them and control your messages, and become an excellent active listener.


Canada's 1st Communication Coach - TEDx Speaker - 3V COMMUNICATIONS Founder/ Coach/Trainer - YEDI Program Advisor/Instructor - NCCA Founder/Executive Director - BJJ blue belt - Trekkie forever! 
I've been blogging about interpersonal and business communication skills, public speaking, body language, ESL issues etc. since 2006.  Here's my popular blog, and my recent TEDx Talk "The Long Life of First Impressions."

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