Business negotiation: Steps to achieving a mutual agreement

Business handshake

The art of negotiation is a skill that cannot be acquired overnight; it takes time and practice and experience.

Negotiations are happening all around us every day in our lives whether you realise or not. For businessmen and women, it is important to know how to negotiate in the proper setting and within different cultures. To ensure you make the most out of your next negotiation here are some simple yet essential steps you can take.

Assertiveness rather than aggressiveness

Many people tend to believe that being aggressive and demanding your needs is the best approach to any negotiation; this is not always the case. While one must be clear on what they want, being assertive rather than aggressive has shown to be more successful and beneficial.

It is important to stand up for what you believe in, this can be done without getting aggressive or empowering your counterpart.

One should not treat it as a war where the more aggressive party wins. The aggressive tactic can be deemed unfair and can result in tension amongst both parties. Instead of arguing to get your point across, be firm in what you are trying to accomplish but refrain from becoming combative. As long as you support and are confident in what you believe in, a solution will become more attainable.

Know what type of negotiator you are

Before you can become a master at negotiation, you must take a step back and figure out what type of negotiator you are. Broadly, people are either classified as either extroverts or introverts. Extroverts being those that are more communicative and emotionally open; introverts being those that reflect, weigh their options, and consider before speaking.

It is necessary to classify yourself as one or the other in order to know what approach to take during a negotiation. For example, being an extrovert may be harder in a negotiation as one must have more self-discipline whereas an introvert takes into consideration what has been said and deals with responses much easier.



Whether an extrovert or introvert, it is very important to understand your emotions. Understand yourself, your intentions, and your behavior while at the same time considering the emotions of your counterpart. Labelling yourself as one or the other, becoming familiar with your emotions, and making the best out of your situation are all key factors in any business negotiation.

Cultural values matter

Pay attention to cultural values and sensibilities. Success is rewarded to those that respect the cultural values of the other party. The prosperity of skilled negotiators is due to having a broader, more open-minded view.

Take into consideration the feelings and values of your counterpart in order to gain respect, and one will begin to see more and more agreeable solutions. If you struggle with understanding the cultural differences or any other factors in a negotiation you can always turn to negotiation consultants. Companies such as The Gap Partnership offer expert negotiation training and advice to ensure success in all of your future negotiations.

Don’t rush; know when to walk away

As the popular quote cites “Patience is a virtue” it is very applicable to any business negotiation. One must be patient, weigh out their options, and never rush into making an agreement. If your counterpart isn’t respecting your needs, walk away.

Many people tend to say yes to a solution even though it’s not what they want solely due to feeling uncomfortable. Steve Gates, the author of The Negotiation Book, says that “more experience negotiators learn to adapt to becoming more comfortable with being uncomfortable.” If you can get past the awkwardness, you will find out that negotiations will tend to go your way more times than not. In addition, one should never be too quick to respond.

Take time to pause and reflect in order to create a sense of hesitation to your counterpart that may be seen as needing a better alternative. Do not be scared to walk away. Usually, when one walks away, the other party will be more susceptible to chase you down and work something out. Realize that no one has control over you and that you are the only determinant of how your negotiation plays out.