Negotiating Tips , Negotiation Strategies , Business Negotiation October 10, 2023

Top 8 Rules of Negotiation | Easy Do's and Don'ts of Negotiation

Our Top 8 Rules of Negotiation If you want to increase your competitive advantage and make a better agreement next time you are in a business negotiation, you may want to keep the rules of negotiation in mind. The rules, which are applicable to anyone seeking to be a good negotiator in any type of situation, come from Dr...

Our Top 8 Rules of Negotiation

If you want to increase your competitive advantage and make a better agreement next time you are in a business negotiation, you may want to keep the rules of negotiation in mind. The rules, which are applicable to anyone seeking to be a good negotiator in any type of situation, come from Dr. Chester L. Karrass's book “In Business As in Life—You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate.”

The Importance of Understanding Common Negotiation Principles

Negotiation is a fundamental aspect of human interaction that occurs in various contexts, from business deals and diplomacy to everyday conversations and personal relationships. At its core, negotiation involves finding mutually agreeable solutions between parties with differing interests, needs, and perspectives. To navigate the complex landscape of negotiation successfully, it's essential to grasp and apply common negotiation principles. These principles provide a framework for effective communication, conflict resolution, and collaboration.

Understanding the rules of negotiation is crucial for several reasons:

Enhanced Communication

Negotiation principles emphasize active listening, clear communication, and empathy. By comprehending these principles, individuals can communicate their interests, concerns, and priorities more effectively, fostering a conducive environment for productive discussions.

Both-Win Outcomes

The goal of negotiation is to reach outcomes that benefit all parties involved. By understanding principles like seeking common ground, exploring interests, and brainstorming creative solutions, negotiators can move away from a win-lose mentality toward win-win scenarios.

Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are inherent in any negotiation process. Understanding the dos and don'ts of negotiation principles equips individuals with techniques to manage conflicts constructively, turning potential roadblocks into opportunities for collaboration and compromise.

Building Relationships

Successful negotiations contribute to the establishment and maintenance of positive relationships. When negotiators adhere to guidelines such as building trust, showing respect, and maintaining transparency, they lay the foundation for enduring partnerships.

Effective Preparation

The rules of negotiation stress the importance of preparation. When individuals understand these principles, they are better equipped to gather relevant information, anticipate counterarguments, and develop strategic plans that can lead to favorable outcomes.


Different negotiation situations demand different approaches. Familiarity with negotiating principles allows negotiators to adapt their strategies based on the context, the parties involved, and the desired outcomes.

The negotiating tips shared in this article will serve as guiding lights, illuminating the path toward successful interactions. They empower you and your team to navigate the challenges of conflict resolution and negotiation with confidence, integrity, and the intention to create value for all parties. The Karrass Negotiating Seminars will bring all of these factors together to hone your understanding and implementation of the rules of negotiation effectively.

What is the First Rule of Negotiation?

The first rule of negotiation, often touted as a foundational principle, is succinctly captured by the phrase: "Know Before You Go." In essence, this rule underscores the paramount importance of thorough preparation before entering any negotiation.

Preparation involves several key guidelines:

  1. Know Your Goals: Clearly define what you aim to achieve from the negotiation. Whether it's securing a business deal, resolving a dispute, or reaching a compromise, having a clear understanding of your objectives is essential.

  2. Research and Information: Gather relevant information about the subject matter, the other parties involved, and the broader context. This knowledge arms you with facts that can support your arguments and help you counter opposing viewpoints.

  3. Understand the Other Side: Anticipate the interests, motivations, and potential objections of the other parties. This understanding allows you to tailor your arguments and proposals in a way that resonates with them.

  4. Develop Strategies: Plan out your approach based on your goals and the information you've gathered. Consider different scenarios and potential outcomes, and formulate strategies for addressing various challenges that may arise.

  5. Practice Communication: Effective communication is a cornerstone of negotiation. Practice articulating your points clearly, actively listening, and responding thoughtfully to different communication styles.

  6. Stay Flexible: While preparation is crucial, be ready to adapt to unexpected developments during the negotiation process. Flexibility allows you to make real-time adjustments and seize opportunities as they arise.

In essence, the first of our rules of negotiation emphasizes that success is often determined before the negotiation even begins. Thorough preparation not only enhances your confidence but also positions you to make informed decisions and seize opportunities for favorable outcomes. 

8 Simple Do's and Don'ts of Negotiation

Navigating the intricate landscape of negotiation demands a strategic and well-informed approach. In the realm of effective negotiation, a handful of simple yet powerful guidelines can be the difference between success and stumbling. Below are eight essential dos and don'ts of negotiation, offering tips that span from selecting the optimal negotiation environment to embracing Both-Win outcomes, providing a roadmap for individuals seeking to elevate their negotiation prowess.

#1 Pick the best place and time to negotiate

You are almost always better off negotiating on your home turf. Negotiating in a setting where you are comfortable and familiar can provide you with a psychological advantage. 

Locations to consider include:

  • Your Office: Familiarity and control over the environment convey authority and comfort.

  • Conference Room: Offers a formal and structured atmosphere for neutrality.

  • Virtual Meeting: Provides convenience and flexibility in the digital age.

  • Neutral Venue: Equalizes comfort and reduces potential power imbalances.

  • Outdoors: Refreshing and conducive to creative thinking.

  • Business Center: Professional setting without requiring a dedicated office.

  • Trade Show or Conference: Offers dynamic networking opportunities for deal-making.

Additionally, the timing of your negotiation can impact its success. Choosing the right time of day and week can influence the mindset and receptiveness of both parties.

As for timing suggestions:

  • Morning Meetings: Negotiating early in the day when minds are fresh can lead to sharper thinking and more effective communication.

  • Midweek Negotiations: Consider midweek negotiations, such as on a Wednesday or Thursday, when both parties are typically focused and less fatigued.

  • Avoid Mondays and Fridays: These days may be less ideal due to the potential for weekend distractions or the Monday rush.

  • After Lunch: Meeting after lunch but before the afternoon slump can be advantageous as people are often more receptive and alert.

  • Consider Time Zones: If negotiating with parties in different time zones, strive to find a mutually convenient time that respects both sides' schedules.

  • Avoid Holidays: Be mindful of holidays or significant events that may impact availability and concentration.

Remember that the choice of setting and timing should align with the nature of the negotiation, your objectives, and the preferences of both parties involved.

#2 Always think about your next best alternative: 

If the negotiation does not go how you initially planned, you must have a Plan B. Imagine you're negotiating the terms of a business partnership, but the other party unexpectedly presents a counterproposal that deviates significantly from your expectations. In such a scenario, having a backup plan ensures you're prepared for alternate outcomes, ensuring that you don't find yourself in a disadvantageous position if the initial negotiation falls through. 

This strategic readiness allows you to adapt swiftly and maintain control over the situation, even when faced with unexpected twists and turns in the negotiation process.

#3 Always leave room to negotiate and give concessions slowly: 

As Dr. Karrass writes “Concessions, carefully controlled, lead the other party toward closure...” Concessions, when used strategically, can guide the negotiation process towards a mutually beneficial conclusion by encouraging the other party to reciprocate, leading to a sense of progress and cooperation.

Imagine during a contract negotiation with a client, you offer a slight reduction in price or an extended delivery timeline can demonstrate your willingness to cooperate. These concessions, when used strategically, can guide this situation toward a mutually beneficial conclusion by encouraging the client to reciprocate, leading to a sense of progress and cooperation between both parties.

#4 Don’t say yes too quickly: 

Another important consideration when applying the rules of negotiation is not being in a hurry to reach a consensus. Rushing to agree may leave potential value on the table. For instance, imagine you're in a business negotiation for a supplier contract. The supplier offers you an initial price, and it might seem reasonable at first glance. 

However, by taking the time to assess the situation, understand the supplier's perspective on production costs, and evaluate your alternatives, you might uncover opportunities to negotiate for better terms, such as lower prices, improved delivery schedules, or additional services. 

#5 Don’t make the first concession on a major issue: 

According to Dr. Karrass' research, people who make the first concession on a major issue end up doing poorly in the negotiation. For instance, imagine you're negotiating the sale of a piece of real estate. If you immediately concede on the price without understanding the buyer's financial constraints or their true willingness to pay, you might end up selling the property for much less than its actual value. Initiating concessions on significant matters can weaken your position and potentially lead to an unfavorable outcome. 

Allowing the other party to make the first move gives you valuable insight into their priorities and negotiation strategy, enabling you to make informed decisions that maximize your outcomes.

#6 Talk less, listen more: 

This is one of the most important rules of negotiation that can make or break your outcome goals. The less the other party knows about you the stronger your position, and the more you know about them, the better off you are. Listening actively allows you to gather information about the other party's goals, concerns, and thought processes. The less you reveal about your own position, the more you maintain control over the negotiation dynamics.

#7 Be skeptical: 

Negotiations often involve posturing and selective disclosure of information. Being skeptical and critically evaluating the information presented helps you make more informed decisions and navigate through potential manipulation. 

Consider a scenario where two companies are negotiating a partnership agreement. Each company will present its strengths and capabilities in the best light possible to gain a favorable position. However, by maintaining a healthy level of skepticism and conducting due diligence, you can uncover the actual capabilities and limitations of each party involved. This ensures that you enter the partnership with a realistic understanding, reducing the risk of unforeseen challenges down the road.

#8 Aim to be a super-winner and find the better deal for both parties

Wrapping up our top eight tips about the rules of negotiation is embracing the concept of Both-Win resolutions to create more sustainable and positive outcomes. Strive for solutions that benefit all parties involved rather than viewing negotiations as adversarial battles. Being a super-winner means embracing the concept of both-win negotiations and not viewing negotiations as a battle.

These simple yet impactful guidelines can enhance your negotiation skills and outcomes. By incorporating these strategies into your approach, you can refine your conflict resolution techniques and achieve more favorable results. For those eager to delve deeper, Dr. Karrass shares additional rules and valuable insights in his highly-praised negotiating seminars, providing a wealth of knowledge to further hone your negotiation prowess.

Become a Better Negotiator Today!

Join KARRASS, a globally recognized authority in the field, in our prestigious negotiation class. In this transformative course, you'll gain access to a wealth of practical insights and time-tested strategies that have empowered countless individuals to thrive in a wide range of negotiation scenarios.

By enrolling, you'll:

  • Master Persuasive Techniques: Develop the skills to communicate your positions persuasively, ensuring your voice is heard and your goals are achieved.

  • Foster Lasting Relationships: Uncover the secrets to nurturing strong, enduring relationships in the realm of negotiation, a skill that extends well beyond the negotiation table.

  • Navigate Complex Negotiations: Whether you're tackling high-stakes business deals, intricate personal matters, or international diplomacy, our class equips you with the confidence to thrive in any negotiation context.

  • Embrace Win-Win Principles: Embody the concept of win-win negotiations, where all parties leave satisfied, ensuring sustained success and cooperation.

Seize this golden opportunity to learn from a true expert in the field and elevate your negotiation prowess. Your journey toward negotiation mastery starts now—enroll today and position yourself as a formidable negotiator primed for success!

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