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Updated: 22 Jul 2024

Negotiation Position

[ni-goh-shee-ey-shuh n] [puh-zish-uh n]

Negotiators’ positions are the things they demand you give them and also the things that they refuse to provide you with. Negotiation positions are typically communicated in meetings, emails, and proposals. Inexperienced negotiators too often take the positions of the other side at face value and don’t probe with questions or challenge sufficiently.

Competitive negotiators are infamous for employing positions—they’re clear on what they want and communicate this early, strongly, and repeatedly. It’s usually unwise to give in to someone’s first position or demand. Wiser is to ask them questions, with ‘Why?’ being the most useful question. There are many ways of asking ‘why’ questions, such as:

  • ‘What will this enable you to do?’
  • ‘What will happen if you don’t get this?’
  • ‘How will having this help you?’

The empowering answers you get are called the other negotiator’s interests.

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