Summary of How to Negotiate by Christopher Copper IND

How to negotiate – Christopher Copper IND

One of the most important skills I have learnt this year is learning to negotiate effectively. Negotiation is not only useful in meeting rooms, bargaining for items while one is shopping in markets, hostage crises, conflict resolution and the list goes on.

As the saying goes, ‘ The most important trip you may take in life is meeting people halfway’ .

Personally, I believe that one should always strive to improve on one’s communication skills, inside out. For 2019, I choose to focus on negotiation skills. After completing a negotiation course and reading a couple of books on negotiation, here are some summaries I have gathered for myself. Of course, the content may change over time depending on the stage or situation I am in when I redo or re read the course or books, but in general, here are some of the key points. This time round, I am avoiding mind maps due to lack of time.

  1. Chapter 0 – Understanding negotiation

What is negotiation?

  • Art of compromise, while knowing what you want, going after it and being mindful of the other person in the process
  • Useful life skill
    • Power to resolve differences into beneficial agreements
    • On average, people negotiate 2-5 times daily
  • How do we learn to negotiate?
  • Prepare for the negotiation
  • Have self – awareness about your opponent
  • Knowledge on strengths and weaknesses, what he can forgo and Must Haves and Good to Have
  1. Culture:
    • British – Setting one ‘s cards as the last resort (Not efficient)
      1. Preference on using understatement and humor
    • French, Dutch and some others – Slow process as they tend to over analyze
    • German – Expect opponent to be on time and tend to do thorough research
      1. Very logic driven
    • Arabs – Enjoys getting to know their opponents before discussing business, at times can be emotional and circuitous
    • Singapore – Fast and furious
    • Chinese – numerous meetings to understand the proposal and the decision will be made on later date without any interaction with the other party
      1. If the deal is to proceed – they will lay down the terms and conditions in a take it or leave it manner
    • Indians – May play ambiguity along the way
  2. Good listening skills:
  3. Power imbalances
  4. What are the deal breakers?
  • Learning curve – Every negotiation is unique in its own way
  1. Identification of the possibility
  2. Find the people who can make it happen
  3. Types of negotiation
  • Bargaining – Dispute the cost of an item
  • Distributive negotiation:
  • Hard bargaining, zero sum brand of negotiation where both sides adopt from an extreme position and they seek to yield as little as possible
    1. Not commonly used in corporate business
    2. Eg: bargaining the price of a carpet where there is a fixed price, Donald Trump’s style
  • Integrative Negotiation
  1. Integrative or principled negotiation
  2. Tends to expand value to mutual benefit rather than as a fixed entity
    • Usually results in a gain on each side and strive towards achieving mutual interests
    • End goal – satisfies both parties while maintaining strong relations
    • May comprise of some elements from distribute negotiation
  3. Notes:
  • What’s in it for them instead of What’s in it for me?
  • Remain focused on the outcome
  • Leave the boardroom with strong and positive relations
  • Achieve the middle
  • Understand the power and how it works in negotiation


  1. Chapter 1 – Power & Psychology
    1. Psychology of negotiation
      • Empathy – driving force behind negotiation
        • Definition – the experience of understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings and conditions from their perspective instead of your own
        • Exercise empathy to gain trust and integrity
      • Power
        • Definition
          1. Ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way
          2. Ability or capacity to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events
        • Successful negotiation uses a balance of power
          1. Redistribute power between yourself and your opponent
          2. Use it to open up possibilities within negotiations, enabling holders to control the agenda, course taken by proceedings and shapes the final outcome
          3. Information is power
        • Managing states of mind
          • Managing expectations is the central part of managing expectations
          • Concession or refusal may bring about a difference in consequences
        • Taking control
          • Draft the agenda in a particular order
          • Hosting the negotiation venue
            1. Setting up seating arrangement
            2. Formal or casual (round table for small group or long table for big group)
            3. Careful of mixing two sides together
            4. Use time as an advantage
              1. Short and efficient process
              2. Set a tight, workable timeframe that suits you agenda and stick to it
  • Using information
    • Do your research and be well informed (Be knowledgeable about what the other side lacks)
    • Don’t just be focused on the deal
  • Things to avoid
    • Mentioning your price
      1. You can mention the parameters in the early stages of the negotiation so that you can easily progress with confidence
    • Acrimony/ Ambiguity
    • Greed – Remember your opponent needs to get something out of it
    • Emotion
      1. Don’t reveal too much
      2. Don’t take it personally
  1. Chapter 2 – Essential Skills
    1. Observe everything
      • Make eye contact
      • Understand first what is motivating both of you
      • Observe yourself and your opponent
      • Body language, emotions, motivations
    2. Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may at last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously
    3. Know what you want to achieve prior to starting to negotiate
    4. Be open to adaptive skillsets:
      • Observe – Be alert to your opponent, their behavior and their language
      • Speak – But only when appropriate
        • Practice speaking slowly
        • Keep sentences short
        • Use plenty of full stops
        • Be alert to your tome
          1. Believe in the offer that you are making
          2. Match your tone to the situation
        • Question – Ask questions that are pertinent and timely
          • Skillful questioning (Curiosity, Engagement)
            1. Encourage questioning ( two way street)
            2. Smart questioning and empathize
            3. Frame questions and a pause 3 seconds before questioning to show importance
          • Listen – take note of what you are being told and learn to use it
          • Use Silence – Pause to prompt, disconcert and buy time to think
          • Make decisions – Forge decisions in the course of negotiation and keep to them
            • Joint decision making process and timelines to solve problems
            • Trust your own judgement
            • One can practice by using role plays with colleagues
          • Prioritize – Keep those aims in view and in perspective
          • Apply assertiveness – Be firm without offending, use leverage to good effect
          • Solve problems – Recognize when problems are arising and know how to tackle them
          • Avoid emotions – Learn to maintain diplomacy and a clam exchange in acutely stressful situations


  1. Chapter 3 – Know your enemy
    1. Understand their motivation, culture, ambitions, values
    2. Establish good relations with them and develop focus points
    3. Use this to anticipate their tactics
    4. Perspective taking
      • Understand or adopt their perspective
      • Be able to step outside the constraints of their own immediate, biased frames of references
      • Perspectives can provide insights as to how deals should be structured
    5. Research, research your opponent
    6. Establish boundaries
      • Keep in contact
      • Define the boundaries of the prospective deal
      • Ensure both parties lay out their cards (goals, expectations etc)
    7. Agendas and motivation
      • Be transparent about your goals, targets and discuss with opponent
      • reassure them that you are the right partner


  1. Chapter 4 – Strategy
    1. Definition
      • A plan of action designed to achieve long term or overall aim
      • Art of planning and directing overall military operations and movements in a war or battle
      • For negotiation – a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal
      • Address your needs (or more) before your opponent takes advantage of you
    2. Strategic thinking
      • Defines the way people think about, assess, shape and create the future
      • Relies upon mastering a series of critical and interrelated skills
      • 11 strategic thinking skills
        • Use logic (left) and creative (right) of the brain
        • The ability to think with a strategic purpose while creating a vision of their direction
          1. Blend the two skills
        • Clearly define the objectives and align them to timelines
        • Able to integrate plans with flexibility by having milestones which they can revise plans along the way
        • Being proactive and anticipate change and challenge status quo
        • Perception: Recognize subtle clues to inform and guide their strategic direction
        • Lifelong learning – Being inquisitive and curious
        • Actively seek out advice from others
        • Creativity is combined with sharp sense of realism
          1. Being alert to what one can achieve in short, medium or longer term
        • Non judgmental
        • Have limitless capacity for patience, being mindful that ideas and strategies take time to develop
  1. Implementation
    • Often starts with business plan
    • Most popular – SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
      • Embrace any weaknesses and threats
  1. Aligning strategy with situation
    • Match strategy to a situation and ensure that is grounded in reality
    • STARS Model
      • Start up, Turn – around, realignment, sustaining process
      • Often used by strategic planners ahead of negotiators to figure out the background of proposed deal
  1. Types of negotiation strategy:
    • Integrative (interest based) or principled negotiation
      • Built on trust
      • Aim for win win
      • Common problem solving approach
    • Distributive negotiation ( hard bargaining)
  2. Tactics
    • Can be used to enforce power dynamics
      • Used by those with power/ confidence and apply pressure on their opponents
      • Key tactics
        1. Preparation: Crucial research
          1. Establish their competitors’ pricings and offers
        2. Initiative: Draft the first version of any agreement
        3. Goodwill: Keep negotiations courteous and positive in tone
          1. Establish a good long term relationship
        4. Listen instead of talking too much
        5. Understand the dynamics at play
          1. Identify who has the leverage and what are their constraints in terms of time and scope
          2. Be clear as to what advantages which side holds
        6. Be prepared to walk away if terms are not attractive and appear immovable
          1. Back up your arguments with research beforehand
        7. Time: Manage time well (Make sure its time efficient and effective)
        8. Send a letter of intent if no contract is signed
          1. Summarize and record main points gleaned from the negotiations
        9. Ask plenty of questions
        10. Always counter. Never accept the first offer
        11. Lay the groundwork to avoid instances of buyer’s response
        12. Break out sessions
          1. Pauses can give off the record time for both sides to think and reflect
        13. Salaries
          1. If you don’t ask, you don’t get mindset
          2. Be well informed before making the first move
            1. Go first if the employer is concerned about his costs
            2. Set your figure in context
            3. Keep it realistic and avoid ultimatum
          3. Chapter 5 – Key Stages
            1. Preparation and planning
              • Every negotiation is unique
              • Better to prepare as a team to ensure everyone is along the same line and minimizing chances of straying
              • Establish your aims and variables, they can be discussed in early stages as well. There may be others depending on type of deal. Give the counterparts time to consider the variables
                • Pricing/ Fee
                • Delivery: When & Where
                • Volume and scale
                • Contract
                • Payment terms
  1. Defining the rules
    • Avoid tension and chaos
    • Put in some rules to remind both parties of the agreed limitations of the deal
    • A set of rules to define topics of discussion, allocated timeframe, no of sessions, place etc
  2. Clarifications and problem solving
    • Aim: Find a working solution not just an agreement
    • Ensure that agreed solution can be implemented and iron out issues
    • Discuss the process to clear up any misunderstandings
  3. Bargaining
    • Avoid openings with extreme positions but adopt an opening position that works for you but manages the other side’s position
    • Use the knowledge you have, insights and market intelligence to gauge a realistic opening position
    • Plan to concede a minimum to get the deal through and end with both sides content
  4. Closure and implementation
    • Try to deal with the person most qualified for the deal
    • Be realistic
    • Create a sense of momentum
      • Set a dateline
      • Time constraints can be a leverage
    • Sit down with a colleague who is familiar with the deal and brainstorm any objections
    • Role play with your colleague to see what they have came up with and what you have missed out on


  1. Chapter 6: Cultural Differences
    1. International business deals cross both borders and cultures
    2. Learn about the culture in advance
    3. Let the host know in advance your key points and send them a message saying you are looking forward to meet them
    4. Time is money for Americans, while Asians want to take things slowly to build trust
    5. Observe local customs and etiquette
    6. Bring more business cards with you (Give with both hands in Asia)
    7. Sometimes you will have to speak in the foreign language or have a translator
      • Stay calm, polite and focused on your strategy
      • Always clarify when sensing a misinterpretation
      • Be a sensitive listener and ask appropriate questions
    8. Get your bearings right and learn some local history
    9. Other forms of communications
      • More direct and simple dialogue VS indirect and convoluted approaches
      • Style & Diplomacy: Being prepared and knowing what to expect and how to react
      • Always a good idea to under estimate and over deliver
      • Silence: Count to ten (Silent way of showing disapproval and a great way to keep on negotiating)
    10. Body language: Maintain a good posture and assume your opponent is a good reader of body language
      • Do your homework before you arrive and take your cue from your opponent
      • Mirror them to steer you through
      • Be punctual or arrive way earlier at the venue, allocating time for traffic


  1. Chapter 7: The Deal
    1. Eight core principles:
      • Keep calm
      • Be patient
      • Stay focused
      • Work to eliminate ambiguity or misunderstanding
      • Buy time if necessary
      • Remain in control of your emotions and your body language
      • Be firm and clear while avoiding aggression
    2. Decide on the break even point before you sit at the table, then set the negotiations to open at the maximum sustainable position
    3. How to pitch
      • Maintain a studious anticipation
      • Avoid conflict by identifying your opponent’s threshold (Bolstering range)
      • Know the value of your anticipated outcome
      • Patience and calm persistence are necessary to outlast your opponent
      • Remain focused on the goals
      • Aim high (Let the opponent go first)
        • Lend them a certain legitimacy
        • Broaden the deal
        • Be alert to opportunities
          1. Barters
          2. Sharing of technology etc
        • Avoid telling the other side why you choose them over their opponents and talk on why you want to do business with them
      • What to ask for
        • Requests have to be realistic and you must have the capacity to deliver
      • Countenance
        • Maintain a cool, calm and collected exterior to curb your enthusiasm
        • Control the way you deliver the message to ensure they got the correct message
        • Learning to stay calm and focused will help you make decisions with a cool head
        • If things aren’t going well, looking nonplussed can leave your opponent feeling awkward
          1. Can undermine their own pitch
          2. Don’t yawn and maintain eye contact
          3. Act like you can make the deal work
        • The Contract
          • Clauses and payment terms are clearly stated
          • Clarify the identity of the parties involved
          • Hire a lawyer
            1. May slow things down
            2. Hired by the other side
          • Conflict
            • Keep post negotiation conflicts to a minimum
            • Speaking on the phone is a good way to clear up misunderstandings
            • Present yourself as on the ball on side and trustworthy
            • Expectations should be aired in early stages
            • Causes of conflict
              1. Sound research can reduce the number of conflicts
              2. Imbalances of power
                1. Recognize your position of power but apply your leverage with great care
  • Conflict resolution strategies
    1. Separate interests and look at problems on each side
    2. Try to ascertain what your opponent attaches to his various positions, as a way to break the impasse
    3. Try to build relationships through common grounds or interests
    4. Focus on shared values first
    5. Don’t let differences between you fester
    6. 5 ways to respond to conflicts (completed through assertiveness or cooperation) :
      1. Competition
      2. Compromise
  • Avoidance
  1. Collaboration
  2. Accommodation
  3. Mediators as a 3rd party to resolve conflicts
  • Time and timing
    1. Firm dateline should be established at the start
  • Walking away
    1. Got to be careful as it is the most overused and easily misunderstood
    2. Alternative: better off to explain your stand and the reasons why you cannot accept their offer
    3. Thank them for their time

Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent. A thorough research and positive attitude paves the way to a more trusting relationship regardless of the outcome.

Along the way remember to:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare
  2. Identify common ground and be prepared to concede in principle
  3. Maintain frequent communications throughout
  4. Remain calm and courteous
  5. Look over the contract like a hawk

Remember that negotiation brings people together to make something happen.