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?

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About George Vrakas
George Vrakas (MBA, CCMP, CMILT) is highly reputed in the fields of Contract and Relationship Management as well as, Services Procurement and Logistics with extensive experience in Contract Management, Procurement and Supply Chain. George is passionate about Contract Management, Procurement, Innovation, Continuous Improvement, Exploring trends that will shape the Future, Team Development and the Modernisation and Automation of processes. George is a member of IACCM. George is the author of blog and has presented on Globalisation, Procurement and Continuous Improvement at various venues and Universities in Victoria, Australia.

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