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Negotiating Alone

Brian Buck
© ScotworkNA

I’m a big believer in working with a team. I’ve always felt that I’m stronger when working with others than by myself. However, negotiating as a team can’t always happen. In fact, many of us find ourselves in the position of having to do our dealmaking all on our own. Some of you may prefer it this way while others are forced to do it this way, but in the end, negotiating alone is not an easy task and should not be taken lightly. Here are some tips on what to do when you’re caught negotiating alone.

1. Slow down

There’s a lot to do in an effective negotiation. That said, it’s much easier when you can distribute the load among teammates, but when you’re by yourself, you’ll have to do everything yourself. So, slow down and give yourself enough time to get everything done — from thorough preparation to effective proposal-making. This is not the time to rush. Be mindful of what you’re doing and take your time.

2. Plan for breaks

When you’re with a team, there are natural breaks that occur during the course of conversation — moments when you’re not talking. These moments will give you some time to think. When you’re by yourself, you’re carrying the burden of driving the conversation, so breaks tend to be nonexistent. Therefore, plan to take a couple of breaks in your conversation — whether they’re to use the restroom, grab something to drink, or just take some time to think. They will help you to gather your thoughts and process information.

3. Summarize often

When you’re by yourself, not only do you have to drive the conversation, but you also have to take copious notes while trying to listen intently to the other side. To help keep everything organized, regularly pause and summarize the conversation to that point. This will help to ensure that you haven’t lost any of the salient points that have been discussed. You can even ask the other side to summarize, which will give you a minute to think things over as well.

4. Be comfortable tabling answers

When we’re by ourselves, we sometimes feel pressure to have all the answers. That’s just not realistic, so don’t fall into that trap. If the other side asks a question that you’re not prepared to answer or aren’t ready to answer, then don’t. Let the other side know that you “need to think about it” or that you “haven’t considered that situation” and need some time before you can answer. If it’s important, they’ll wait. Better to take your time than to give an answer you’ll regret later.

5. Look for opportunities to consult with others

Even though you’re by yourself, find ways to leave the table and consult with others. During breaks or between meetings, confer with a colleague. Talk to them about what’s happening and get their input on the situation. This will help to broaden your perspective, allowing you to see past your own blinders.

Like I said, I prefer to have a team with me when I negotiate, but that doesn’t always happen. And I’m sure that many of you rarely get the opportunity to negotiate with a team. Regardless of your situation, when you’re caught negotiating alone, remember the above and you’ll get through it with much better deals.


Never Be Alone

You don’t have to be alone. Even if you’re by yourself at the negotiating table, we have your back. We can be there to guide you the entire way. We’ll assist you with getting better deals, saving time, creating value for all involved, not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Let us partner you with one of our coaches, ensuring that you’re never alone on any deal.

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