The word negotiation conjures many connotations and meanings to people. Whether that be haggling with a car salesman or bargaining with your boss for a raise, most people don’t connect with negotiation on a positive level. Or at the very least, don’t consider themselves negotiators.

In reality though, each of us negotiates life, every moment of every day. Most people merely navigate these conversations or events; or simply look to not get the raw end of any deal.

But I believe that when you approach each negotiation with a purpose and a clear outcome in mind, you can work with the other party to achieve mutually beneficial results. I like to think of this as, intentional negotiation.

What’s possible?

The premise behind intentional negotiation is simple, the most important actors in any negotiation are: your own internal values and beliefs about the outcome you’re after; and the assumptions you make about the party with whom you’re negotiating.

You walk into every negotiation with preconceived beliefs about what’s possible. These are grounded in your personal experience and the details of the situation as you interpret them based on your own perception.

You use your unique filter on the world to navigate it. You create assumptions, test those assumptions with evidence, and then create conclusions. The stronger the conclusion, the more it becomes your truth and gets anchored into your belief system.

Believe a deal is possible? You’re probably right. Believe no deal is possible? You’re definitely right.

This holds true whether you’re the principle negotiator for yourself or whether you’re an agent negotiating on behalf of someone else.

If you’re an agent, this equation is compounded because your role can easily be complicated with your own subjective opinions and beliefs about your client and their position. Whether you’re an attorney, realtor or parent, you must evaluate your own influence on the outcome for the party you’re representing.

In order to negotiate with intention, you must interrogate your own belief and value systems, your guiding myths, and your way of seeing the world.

Know what you Want

It often said that:

negotiation is the art of letting other people have your way.


If this is true, then in order to be an effective negotiator you must first know what your way is and what you’re willing to give in exchange for it.

A critical aspect of intentional negotiation is getting clear on the outcome you want and aligning your belief system to support that outcome.

Many people approach a negotiation and just want the “best deal possible” without taking any account of what that might look like for them. If they do walk in with an idea of what they want, it’s usually pretty abstract.

The more clear you are on what you ultimately want, the more likely you are to get it. Also, the more open you are to options and paths to get to that outcome, the more likely you are to get it.

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