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Can "No Deal" still be a "Win"?

Nicki Steers
No Deal 1 002

Often in negotiations we tend to hold our cards close to our chest, not giving too much away too early. The fear is that if we share too much information early on there will be nothing to actually negotiate with.

When you think about it, however, being specific in the early stages, with clear and reasonable proposals can often ensure that all parties reach that ‘win/win’ situation, often in a much shorter timeframe.

Recently I was approached by a company for a contract role. Their team were under a lot of pressure and needed someone to come in, help out with day to day projects, mentor and coach their team and alleviate the pressure and their stress levels.

It sounded like the contract role for me, and the company that approached me agreed.

Then the negotiations started. The company made their proposal based mainly on the hours required. I was evaluating hours, travel time, transport costs (petrol and parking), days required, household responsibilities, family schedules and other life admin that needed to be taken into account for this contract.

When it came to the dollars, the company presented an hourly rate but indicated that they had some degree of flexibility. They were not specific, therefore it was encouraging to think they may have been willing to meet my expectations for the hourly rate. They asked me what I would be looking for.

The challenge for me was whether I wanted this contract enough that I would ask for a rate close to their offer, or should I ask for the rate that I was actually worth?

I chose to be specific. I gave them an hourly rate that I was worth and that I was prepared to take up the contract for.

The company could not meet this level and we agreed to part company (metaphorically) as friends.

You might think this was a lose/lose, but you’d be wrong. I had determined my ‘must get’, I had been specific early on in the discussions and both myself and the company had saved precious time, discussions, negotiations and to-ing and fro-ing over the one element we could clearly never agree on. It was still a win/win for both of us. Hopefully they find someone to do the work at a price they can afford, I have already secured other consulting work at my standard rate, an opportunity that may otherwise have been missed.

A good negotiator has the tools to test out and identify if and where the other side can be flexible. They know what their own priorities are and where they can be flexible. They share information and are specific in making their proposals. They also have the ability to determine when a deal is not achievable and move on. This saves everyone time, energy and frustration and avoids compromising relationships. Maybe next time when circumstances and limits are different, we may be able to work together.

Do your negotiators know how to do this? If you or they need assistance in acquiring these skills contact one of our experts now:, P: 04 2979069

Nicki Steers
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