The first step to a successful negotiation.

There are many guides that provide expertise and tips on how to prepare, plan and conduct a negotiation.

Reflecting on my experience, the essential first step to a successful negotiation is this:

Embrace fully the second position.


In a negotiation there are effectively three positions:

1st position: Your position

2nd position: Your counterpart’s position (i.e. the other side) and

3rd position: The position from an independent observant of the negotiation.

In a lot of negotiations that fail, I have distinguished that, the outcome is dependant on a very simple element. The fact that one or both sides do not fully understand the drivers, concerns and/or the position of their counterpart (the other negotiating side).

Effective communication is the responsibility of both sides. However, even if the other party is a poor communicator you need to make every effort to understand fully their position and give it a fair go.

In essence, how can you expect your counterpart (the other side) in a negotiation, to listen and understand, when you may not have spent the time and energy to understand his/her positions, concerns, pressures and targets?

Hence, a simple and effective advice is to try to see things from the other’s perspective.

Then built a value proposition that:

i) creates value for the other party as well as,

ii) covers your own requirements.

Understanding the business, the drivers, the cost elements and the market is the key, the first step towards a successful negotiation.

Trust, which is the core element of a successful relationship, depends on it. As a consequence, successful category management and effective sourcing strategies rely on it as well.

This is a simple piece of advice that is often overlooked.

Did you embrace the second position the last time you were at a negotiation table or, you had to work with a supplier or customer to resolve and issue or create a solution. What would you have done differently?


About Geovrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the field of services procurement and logistics and has presented on topics such as, Globalisation, Services Procurement, Leadership, Continuous Improvement and Personal Productivity at various venues and Universities in Melbourne. He has also been the host at industry events and published articles on Procurement and Contract Management at various online publications. George was a Board member of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Australia (CILT Australia) from 2011 until 2016 and also a member of the International Association for Contract & Commercial Management (IACCM). George holds an MBA from Victoria University specializing in International Supply Chain Management and Applied Economics, he is also a certified Commercial Contract Management Practitioner (CCMP), a Green Belt Lean Six Sigma expert and holds a Lloyd's Maritime Academy certificate in KPIs for Ports and Terminals. He also holds certification on variety of topics primarily relating to Contract Management, Negotiations, International Regulations, Problem Solving and Change Management.

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