Negotiation Skills and Best Negotiating Practices

Negotiation skills you will learn in our negotiation workshops

Watershed Associates looks at Negotiations in a 5 stage model we describe as the Framework for Collaborative Negotiations. Surrounding the Negotiation Framework and embedded throughout the negotiation process are a set of Best Negotiating Practices® that help negotiators achieve predictable and repeatable results.

Covering a wide range of negotiation skills, strategies and behaviors, the Best Negotiating Practices® Program is based on the framework, best practices and special topics described below.

Framework for Collaborative Negotiations

The Negotiation Framework presented in our workshops identifies five stages of any negotiation and helps students to better understand negotiating as a process that delivers predictable and repeatable results.

This Framework is based on leading academic research, the practical experience in our team's diverse negotiating careers, and our extensive client experiences at organizations around the Globe. The Negotiations Framework is Circular because it depicts the fluid movement of all negotiations. Collaborative negotiations are an ongoing process, which builds confidence, trust and strong relationships.

At a high level, the five Stages of the Negotiation Framework include:

Preparation Identify potential value
Begin to understand interests and BATNAs
Develop fact-base
Information Exchange
and Validation
Discovering and creating value
Assess interests and BATNAs
Build rapport and trust
Bargaining Create and distribute value
Address interests
Make and manage concessions

Capture value
Confirm interests have been met
Final Summarization
Show Appreciation

Execution Expand value
Addressing changing interests & future BATNAs
Strengthen relationships

A full description of the Fives Stages of Negotiations can be found in our Negotiator's Learning Center.

Best Negotiating Practices® (BNPs)

Watershed's 22 Best Negotiating Practices®, are the skills, behaviors, strategies and habits to implement as you negotiate. Master Negotiators consistently adhere to these BNPs in all of their critical Negotiations. The BNPs are covered in detail in our negotiation workshops in such a way that students retain and apply them after the session.

Fundamental BNPs across all of the Negotiation Framework Stages

  1. Everyone is a negotiator and everything is negotiable, but don’t negotiate everything.
  2. Believe in win-win, mutual gain. Win-win is an attitude, not an outcome.
  3. Use the power of listening: Listen until it hurts.
  4. Build in time and be p a t i e n t.
  5. Keep things positive...and when they attack, hold your fire!

BNPs for the Prepare Stage

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Identify Most Desirable Outcomes, Goals, Least Acceptable Agreements, and Best Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement.
  2. Beware of your assumptions. Don’t allow assumptions to be truths until you test them.
  3. Set the stage. Focus on building trust and relationships, and identifying clear interests.

BNPs for the Exchange Stage

  1. Don’t forget the warm-up – start s l o w l y.
  2. Understand their interests early.
  3. Develop a joint agenda and begin with easier issues.

BNPs for the Bargaining Stage

  1. Think big and ask for what you want.
  2. Be ready to challenge first offers.
  3. Never say No or Yes. Use the negotiated yes: Yes, if...
  4. Use your concession pattern to communicate your message; make slower, smaller moves.
  5. Use the power of The Negotiator’s Probe to get them to move and to explore options.
  6. Trade painless concessions. Stay focused on interests and creative ways to address them.
  7. Use the power of legitimacy, objective criteria, and independent standards.
  8. The most powerful thing you can do is make offers and proposals.

BNPs for the Conclude Stage

  1. Summarize early and often.
  2. If you reach impasse, handle it gracefully to avoid deadlock.
  3. Always thank them. 

A deep dive into the 22 Best Negotiating Practices is provided in our Negotiator's Learning Center.

Nuanced Negotiation Topics  

Our Negotiation workshops cover many topics that practitioners face in simple and complex business negotiations. Depending on client needs and preferences, these topics are covered in our fundamental, advanced and specialty negotiation workshops. You can also browse by topic in our online Negotiator's Learning Center.

  • Negotiation Situation Awareness
  • Strategic Preparation
  • Stakeholder Analysis
  • Negotiation Tactics
  • The Dynamics of Opening Offers
  • Introduction to Bargaining Across Cultures
  • Tools to use throughout your Negotiations
  • The Negotiator as Persuader
  • Managing Emotions as You Negotiate
  • Email, Texting and Phone Negotiations
  • Team Dynamics in Negotiations
  • Gaining and Leveraging Power
  • Negotiating Styles and Assessment
  • Sole Source and Limited Supply Channel Negotiations
  • The Truth about Lying in Negotiations
  • Dealing with Irrational and Difficult Negotiators
  • Negotiating with Governments
  • Legal Considerations in Negotiations
  • Intra-Organizational Negotiations
  • Ethics Guidelines for Win-Win Negotiating
  • Strategies to Overcome Impasse
  • Engaging in Difficult Conversations

How to Get in Touch with Watershed Associates

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