Business Negotiation January 12, 2015

The Quick Negotiation Preparation Checklist

Identify the issues or differences you wish to resolve. Prioritize them...


  1. Identify the issues or differences you wish to resolve. Prioritize them. Identify the other’s interests and priorities.

  2. Which issues should we talk about? Which should be avoided—or maybe delayed to a later date?

  3. What is the best time and place to negotiate? Can this matter wait for a better time, place or hearing?

  4. List your sources of strength. What are their limits and constraints? You have more power than you think. Why?

  5. How will you open the negotiation and best support the position you take?

  6. Most negotiations are settled through compromise and concession. How should you do so? What concessions might you ask for in return for those you make?

  7. How will you and the other party document or otherwise assure that what both have agreed to will be accepted as a commitment to execute the terms of the agreement?

  8. The best way to reach a committed agreement is by jointly searching for and finding mutual gain solutions that resolve differences and problems. Write down some Both-Win ideas before entering the meeting.

  9. Consider asking an associate to play the role of a “Devil’s Advocate.” Let them defend the other person’s position and rebut your viewpoint and arguments.

  10. Cool the “hot potato.” The more difficult the issue, the more important it is to cool off before dealing with it. Don’t start with a chip on your shoulder or a hot potato in your hand. Wait. Wait.

  11. What relationship do you now have with the other person? Can something be done to improve that relationship before negotiating? After agreement?


The checklist above assures that you will ask yourself important questions even when time is short.  It covers many of the salient points that in the end determine whether your negotiating session will go well.  The value of the checklist is that, in the rush to negotiate, some of these points may well escape our attention and lead us to needless resistance or a failed agreement.

Many scoff at checklists, but research clearly indicates that those who make them make fewer mistakes and omissions.
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