A negotiation is nothing more than a discussion through which both parties seek to formulate and settle upon a mutually beneficial agreement, whether this agreement is a multi-million dollar contract or simply at which restaurant to meet for dinner. Our daily professional and personal lives are riddled with negotiations, those across a boardroom table, the kitchen table and everywhere in between.
But, what sets a successful negotiator—one who comes out on top in deal-making more often than not—apart from those who struggle to gain advantages? Of course, there are numerous strategies one can employ to improve their chances of emerging victorious in a negotiation, and paramount among these is asking just the right kind of questions—those that will elicit answers that facilitate a win for all parties involved.
With this in mind, here are seven “must ask” questions in any negotiation to best ensure a desirable outcome:
1. Would you explain the reasons for your position?
If you can’t clearly understand the other party’s reasoning through simple discussions, the best way to discern the other parties position and motivations on deal points is to directly ask them their rationale for what they are offering or seeking. Once you know the other party’s thought process and justifications, rather than just the outcome they desire, you can better adjust your strategy and response to coincide with their position. For instance, in a scenario where the other party is requiring some advance payment that doesn’t sit well with you, you might find out that they need the funds at this initial juncture to fund required material or other costs in order to put the arrangement in motion. Once you understand the logic behind requests and demands relating to a deal structure, you are better able to control discussions and create agreeable terms.