Negotiators Know That You Can Only Win By Taking The High Ground

If you aren't on the high ground, then you're not going to reach a good deal
If you aren’t on the high ground, then you’re not going to reach a good deal

When it comes to how you want to conduct your next negotiation, there are an almost limitless number of ways to go about doing it. Some of them are above board and some of them are downright sneaky. I’m going to suggest that if you want to walk away from the negotiating table with a deal that both sides are going to feel good about, then you’re going to have to take the high ground…

What Is The “High Ground” And Why You Should Care

In order to reach the outcome of a negotiation that you want to, you need to be in the driver’s seat – you need to be controlling the direction that the negotiation takes. The challenge here is that the other side of the table will be trying to do exactly the same thing at the same time.

During the negotiation process, you will take positions and you will ask the other side to make concessions to you. As you might well expect, they are probably not going to be all that interested in making those concessions to you. Your negotiating skills will have to come into play as you attempt to convince them to adopt your views and make concessions.

This process can either be easy or hard to do. You can make it much easier on yourself if you choose at the outset of the negotiating session to take the high ground. This isn’t one of the negotiating techniques that we are talking about. Rather it’s more a part of an overall principled negotiation philosophy.

Taking the high ground during a negotiation means that instead of trying to bully or verbally overpower the other side of the table, instead you rely on solid evidence in the form of both logic and facts. It’s not all about you, rather the reason that the other side should adopt your viewpoint is because of the compelling evidence that shows that it really is the correct way to go.

How To Reach The High Ground

Realizing that the high ground is the correct way to go during a negotiation and then actually taking it are two completely different things. Any negotiation definition tells you that you are going to have conflict with the other side during the negotiation and staying on the high ground can be a difficult thing to do.

There are many negotiation styles that you can choose from when you are starting your next negotiation; however the following four components must always be included in what you do in order to allow you to keep the high ground:


  • Have A Solid Direction: You have got to know where you are going. Having a strong sense of where you want the negotiations to lead to is key to allowing you to retain the high ground.



  • Having History On Your Side: Do your homework before the negotiation and be able to point out how your positions are simply a continuation of what has been agreed to by the other side in the past.



  • Love That Logic: The nice thing about logic is that people can’t really argue with it. Take the time to think out your positions and then present them in a logical fashion to the other side.



  • Use Standards: If somebody else has established a standard then make sure that your proposal is supported by this standard and make sure that you tell the other side this.


What All Of This Means For You

Negotiating can be a tough job. As you enter a negotiation you need to make a decision about how you want to get to the end. There are a lot of different ways to get there, some are above board and a whole bunch are not.

Experienced negotiators know that sticking to the high ground is the best way to conduct a negotiation. Using solid backup material consisting of factual evidence and well-though out logic allows you to convince the other side of the table that you really are looking to strike a deal with them.

Negotiators can be tempted to forego the high ground if they find themselves in a rush – they just need to get a deal done quickly. However, it’s been proven time after time that if you don’t take the high ground during your negotiations, the deal that you negotiated won’t be one that either side will want to live with.

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

Question For You: What do you think that you should do if your management doesn’t want to take the high ground?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Negotiations can go on for a long time. When you start a negotiation, you probably have a pretty good idea of where you want to get to. The big question is does the other side of the table share this goal with you? Will they be able to remember this goal throughout the entire negotiation? Hmm, sounds rather iffy to me. Perhaps what you need are a set of guiding principles…

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