What Does A Negotiating “Game Plan” Really Look Like?

Having a game plan will help your next negotiation go much better
Having a game plan will help your next negotiation go much better
Image Credit: Ed Yourdon

Our goal for any negotiation that we participate in is to be able to walk away with the best deal possible no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques were used.. However, all too often we go into a negotiation with no clear idea just exactly how we are going to achieve that goal. What can be missing from our planning for a negotiation is a game plan. Just knowing that you need a game plan is one thing, understanding what goes into one is something completely different.

What Needs To Go Into A Game Plan

I’m hoping that we can all agree that a game plan is needed before you enter into your next negotiation. However, where things tend to get just a bit fuzzy is when we start to talk about exactly what needs to go into a game plan. Ultimately a game plan is just a set of answers to a number of very important questions.

The trick is for a skilled negotiator is to know what questions he or she needs to have an answer to before the negotiation starts. Some of these questions are fairly basic. Things like what are you planning on saying at the start of the negotiations? How will you react to what the other side says to you? In the event that the talks come to a deadlock, what is your next step going to be?

As you can see, these are some fairly basic questions that for each negotiation you are going to have to answer and then add both the question and your answer to your game plan. If you have the time, you can go even farther. This means that you’ll need to come up with answers to questions like what kind of concessions are you going to be both willing and able to make during the negotiations? What kind of concessions are you going to be expecting from the other side of the table? Finally, just exactly what do you know about the people that you will be negotiating with – do you have a good understanding of what is motivating them to negotiate with you?

How To Use A Game Plan In A Negotiation

If you’ve taken what I’ve told you to heart and gone ahead and created a game plan for your next negotiation, then that is fantastic! Having a game plan is really all about control. It turns out that the more that you know about the negotiation and the other side both before things start and while the negotiation is in progress then the more control you will have over how it all turns out.

Using your game plan will allow you to explore different possibilities during the negotiation because you’ll always know where you want to go. By doing this it’s almost as though there is a script or a storyline that you are following. No, things probably won’t go exactly like you thought they would at the beginning; however, if you start with a game plan then you’ll be organized from the start.

Things always change during a negotiation and so your game plan will undoubtedly need to be changed during the course of the negotiations. However, every negotiation is all about power – who has it and who does not. By having a game plan you’ll be prepared and if the other side does not, then you’ll have even more power!

What All Of This Means For You

In order to get the most out of your next principled negotiation, you are going to need to have a plan. What this means is that you’ll have to take the time to create a game plan before the negotiation starts. The key is to know what goes into a game plan and how to use it.

A game plan consists of answers to questions that you believe need to be addressed before the negotiation start. A lot of this has to do with you planning out what you will be telling the other side. However, you also have to anticipate what you believe that they will be telling you and how you’ll react. Having a game plan allows you to script out the entire negotiation. Yes, things will change, but having a game plan will allow you to be organized.

Every negotiation is about control. Who has it and how they are going to keep it. Having a game plan allows you to start out a negotiation with control and maintain it as the negotiation progresses. With a game plan you’ll be better prepared to get what you want than the other side will be.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: How much time do you think that you should spend creating a game plan for your next negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What we’d all like to have in our next negotiation is more control. The big question is how can get this? It turns out that the answer is fairly simple: we need to do a better job of preparing for the negotiation than the other side does. A big part of this preparation is obtaining information about who we will be negotiating with.