The Secret To Preparing For A Negotiation: POST

No! Not that kind of POST…
No! Not that kind of POST…
Image Credit: Peter B.

In order to be successful in your next negotiation, you are going to have to show up ready to do battle with the other side. The big question that most of us face when we are preparing for a negotiation is just exactly what should we be doing in order to get ready? I mean, there’s a lot that we could be doing, but are we forgetting anything? It turns out that there is a simple way to remember what you need to be doing and it uses the acronym POST…

Use POST To Get Ready For Your Next Negotiation

In order for both you and the other members of your negotiating team to get ready for the upcoming negotiation, you need to make sure that you do all of the preparation that will be required. In order to make sure that everything has been taken care of, you need to remember the acronym POST.

POST stands for Persons, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics. These are the most important issues that you are going to have to create working notes for and for which you’ll have to have clear plans for before you enter your next negotiation.

Persons Attending The Negotiation

Every person participating in a negotiation is playing a role. Your job is going to be to make sure that you understand why they are there and what they hope to accomplish by being there. Before the negotiations start, you will need to take the time to list out everyone that you know will be there and the role that you believe that they will play.

Negotiations are dynamic things. This means that there will probably be people in attendance that you had not expected to be there. When this happens, it’s going to be your job to have a discussion with them in order to find out what they are doing there. Once you’ve identified this, add this information to your notes and make sure that you include them in the discussions at the right time.


As a negotiator, you always have to know what your objective is before entering into a negotiation. Objectives have two key characteristics. They are measurable and they are obtainable.

The reason that you need to know what your objective for a meeting is because it will help you to set a valid expectation for what you’ll be able to get out of a meeting. In most cases, a negotiation won’t be settled in a single meeting. Knowing what your objective is for the first meeting means that you won’t try to reach a deal in the first meeting. Instead, you’ll spend your time laying the groundwork for the next meeting.


The interesting thing about strategies is that before a negotiation starts, you have the opportunity to decide which strategy you are going to use. You have many options: you can choose enthusiasm, boredom, excitement, good cop / bad cop, etc.

What strategy you’ll use may depend on how many people you have on your negotiating team. When you have two or more people, you’ll have a lot more options for how you can proceed. When you choose a strategy that you want to use in a negotiation, you’ll have to be sure to inform everyone on your team so that they can support this strategy during the negotiation.


Tactics has everything to do with deciding who on your team will be doing what during the negotiations. Your tactics need to both be planned and communicated within your team prior to the start of the negotiations.

Knowing what role you and the other members of your team are going to be playing is going to key to your ability to get the deal that you want. You’ll need to know what role the other people on your team will be playing in order for you to be able to play off of them during the negotiations.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiations can be tricky things. There are a lot of issues that need to be discussed and a lot of agreements that need to be made. As negotiators, one of the most important things that we need to learn to do is to prepare correctly for our next negotiation.

Simply because there can be so much going on in a principled negotiation, we need to make sure that we don’t forget to do any of the required steps. What this means is that we need a way to remember everything that we have to do. The acronym POST (Persons, Objectives, Strategies, and Tactics) can provide us with a simple way to remember everything that we need to do.

Although it can be easy to get caught up in all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that are used in a negotiation, professional negotiators know that most negotiations are decided long before they even start. The side that shows up the best prepared is the one that will be able to get the best deal. Use the POST technique to make sure that you are the best prepared side when it comes time for your next negotiation.

– 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 preparing for your next negotiation?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Yea! The negotiation is over and done with (or at least this meeting that is a part of the negotiations is done with) and the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have all been put away. Now you can go home, put your feet up, and relax until the next meeting. Hold on – it turns out that things really don’t work that way. Reaching the end in a negotiation is when the work really starts. Do you know what you need to be doing now?

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