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Negotiate Effectively: Strengthening Your Position

This lesson is a part of an audio course Negotiate Effectively by Barbara J. Bruno

Throughout the entire negotiating process, you will gain the upper hand and strengthen your position if you reinforce relevant points. Your counterpart may be astounded by the thoroughness and strength of your position.

Maintain Your Advantage

Strength refers to the process of influencing the outcome of your negotiations. Once you have gained the upper hand, strengthen your advantage by reminding your counterpart of the many disadvantages of rejecting your proposal. This often motivates others to reconsider their position. Pointing out the disadvantages they will experience also helps to avoid deadlock and strengthen the relationship between parties involved.

Reiterate Key Points

Continue to stress your key points, encouraging questions to clarify your position. Be aware of the nonverbal messages you are sending by using positive body language (that you learned in Lesson 7). Reiterate your key points in an assertive, not aggressive style.

Focus on Issues

If you are not comfortable negotiating, the entire process can be stressful. You may become anxious about the outcome and how that will reflect on you. You never know what tactics your counterparts will use throughout the process.

Focusing on issues will prevent you from taking comments personally, which could cause you to weaken your position. Restate your position firmly if necessary, and refrain from criticizing your counterpart.

Stay Calm

You can not control what others will say or do during the process of negotiating. Another person involved in the process may become antagonistic, tempers may flare, and some negotiators may even resort to personal insults. The only thing you can control is how you react throughout the entire process. You have 100% control over your reactions, and often the best choice is to choose NOT to react. It is very empowering to realize you CAN control your reactions. This often throws others off because they were convinced arrogance and aggressive behavior would help them gain the upper hand.

Handle Mistakes

It can be difficult to strengthen your position when your counterparts point out mistakes in your data or position. Rather than gloss over mistakes, acknowledge them immediately, which allows you to proceed with confidence.

When I sold real estate, we got to the closing table and realized the estimated closing costs for the buyer were higher than I had quoted. Rather than have the buyer walk away from the table, I immediately offered to cover the increased amount out of my commission. I admitted my error and offered the concession to guarantee a positive outcome.

The buyer was impressed by my immediate action and, as a result, sent me many future clients. In addition, the following year, I sold this person an office building for his business. Mistakes will happen, you are not perfect, but when they do, take a deep breath, stand back, and consider your long-term goals. Your willingness to compromise can be a constructive tactic to reach an agreement that benefits everyone.

Weaken Your Opposition

While you are focused on strengthening your position, look for ways you can weaken your counterparts' position at the same time. The best way to achieve this is to question the validity of their information. Look for weaknesses or mistakes in their statistics, the omission of facts, hidden agendas, or errors of logic. However, refrain from personally attacking another individual.


I am sure you have watched a sporting event where a team is losing, and then one great play puts momentum behind the team, and they end up winning. When your opposition loses momentum when they are responding to weaknesses or mistakes, you can diminish their influence in the negotiation process while you stress the advantages of your position.

Least Amount of Interest

There is one more thing I want you to consider. It is often the person with the least amount of interest in the outcome, that ends up in a position of strength. The best negotiations occur when both parties are equally motivated to create a long-term relationship. They are both willing to compromise immediate gains to benefit from an ongoing relationship. A healthy marriage is a great example of this type of relationship.

However, most negotiations occur outside of long-term relationships. The way you handle the negotiation will determine if you end up with a fair deal or regret the deal you make.

Let me share an example. The first time I bought a car, I shared the model of car I wanted to buy and shared my budget. I ended up with a car payment that was much higher than my budget because the salesperson knew the specific model of car I would buy. I conducted research AFTER my purchase and realized I had paid a much higher price than I should have for the car.

Three years later, when I purchased a car, I did not reveal my budget and looked at several different models of car. When I returned from a test drive, the salesperson quoted a price, I said that was way above my budget and started to walk away. At that point, the salesperson offered to talk to her manager to lower the price. We went back and forth until the price quote was what I had budgeted. I then mentioned I planned to trade in my car and knew the value of my car. This reduced the price even lower.

If you are willing to walk away, that can result in your strengthening your position during the process of negotiating. You will also strengthen your position if you implement ideas shared in this lesson.

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Written by

Barbara J. Bruno

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