by Bob MacKenzie


In this topic, we’re concerned with the sorts of ordinary, practical negotiations that you’re likely to be involved in from day to day as a manager.

He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat.

Robert Estabrook

As a human being and as a manager, you are a negotiator. These days, human beings in many walks of life are demonstrating a greater desire to participate in the decisions that affect them, and this involves them in daily negotiations. Negotiation is also vitally important in the furtherance of a manager’s role and career. A huge part of a manager’s job necessitates negotiations over a whole range of issues. These negotiations include:

  • Finalising new contracts or commissions
  • Dealing with complaints in a way that is most likely to ensure customer or staff satisfaction
  • Acquiring and allocating resources
  • Handling the expectations of bosses and shareholders in order to ensure that realistic targets and priorities are set
  • Confirming terms and conditions of employment, including salaries and bonuses
  • Discussing recruitment, promotion or severance issues
  • Monitoring and adjusting performance targets, quality standards and so on.

This topic is about the crucial importance of negotiation in our business and personal lives, and about how to become a better negotiator. It is organised around the stages of negotiation, and it addresses a number of key questions. It’s based upon the twin propositions that we’re all constantly involved in negotiations, whether we recognise this or not, and that we should always aim for a win-win outcome wherever possible.

Below are the four main stages of negotiation, but before you get involved in your next important negotiation, it’s important to understand the basics of negotiation (Understanding negotiations and From win-win to lose-lose) and your own strengths and weaknesses as a negotiator (You as a negotiator and Which behaviours achieve which outcomes?).

The four stages of negotiation

  1. Deciding whether or not to negotiate
  2. Preparing for negotiations (before)
  3. Conducting negotiations (during)
  4. Preparing for the next negotiation (after)