View a Negotiation as an Opportunity to Gain Something

Life is full of negotiations, big and small. We negotiate for raises, we negotiate with clients and providers over prices, and we negotiate for more staff, the best projects, and flex time.


To be successful, we really need to know how to negotiate well. A negotiation is an experience that is rife with conflicting motivations. When you haggle with another party over price, you need to somehow reconcile your desire to pay (or be paid) your target amount with your fear that if you push too hard, the negotiation may break down. Negotiations are always gambles, and there is always risk.

There are two different approaches: people who think about their goals and opportunities to gain (promotion-focused), and people who think about their goals in terms of what they could lose if they don’t succeed (prevention focused).

The best approach is promotion-focused: when you are preparing for your next negotiation, take a moment to list everything you hope to accomplish, and all the ways in which you will benefit if you are successful. Re-read this list just before the negotiation begins. And most importantly, shut out any thoughts about what could go wrong — just refuse to give them your attention.

Summing-up: Negotiation isn’t easy for everyone. People tend to approach a negotiation in one of two ways: as an opportunity to gain something, or an opportunity to lose something. When you focus on the potential gains, you’re a more successful negotiator.

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