Negotiation: Put on a game face

Every day, we’re faced with questions, both in our business and personal lives, that place us in uncomfortable situations, where it seems like there’s no way to walk away with everyone feeling happy.

  • Will work from home continue indefinitely?
  • Can I begin the new job after I receive my bonus from the organization I am leaving?
  • Can I keep my side business while I work for you?
  • Will you include your subsidiary in the sale of your company?
  • Where should the family go on vacation this post-pandemic year?
  • Can we bring our dog when we stay with you at your house?

However, if you view social conflicts as negotiations, it’s possible to analyze the circumstances to maximize resultant success. Negotiation can be particularly challenging with emotionally charged personal situations. Here are disparate goal resolution strategies by removing emotion and applying some basic analytical tools.

  1. Identify your negotiation space. Define a first offer that anchors the radical end of that space, as setting high targets results in better outcomes. Identify your target and walk-away point. Stick to this space, and use this space, not emotion, as your guide.
  2. Anticipate your opponents’ goals. What will motivate them to come to an agreement? Avoid misperceptions. Harvey Robbins suggests, “Place a higher priority on discovering what a win looks like for the other person.”
  3. Plan the negotiation. Anticipate next moves, develop contingencies, discover more about your opponents’ circumstances by asking questions and keep track of progress and compromises.
  4. Include many negotiation points in your position. Be flexible on items that aren’t critical and firm on the most important goals. Include items up front that you are willing to compromise on. The goal is to get what you really want.
  5. Be positive. Search for common ground. Positively frame responses and reiterate agreements. Demonstrating cooperation results in better outcomes.
  6. Accept the inevitability of failed negotiations and be willing to walk away. Putting on a game face by knowing when you are confronted by a negotiation, preparing and removing emotion yields the most success.


  1. Assume happiness and a successful negotiation are synonymous. You may end up dissatisfied if you miss a lofty target but still fall within your negotiation space.
  2. Rush. Emotional indifference is an advantage. Negotiations are routine business decisions, and you must be willing to walk away. There are circumstances where face-to- face, online, using an intermediary and setting a decision date may help your success.
  3. Be temperamental. Getting personal, adding insults and introducing issues after you have agreed on things will anger and may lead to unresolvable conflicts.

Mastering negotiations comes with experience, and not all situations can be “won.” With practice, though, you can get better about removing emotion, being analytical and maximizing the chances of negotiation success. So with your game face on, consider a final insight from Lance Morrow: “Never forget the power of silence, that massively disconcerting pause which goes on and on and may last induce an opponent to babble and backtrack nervously.”

Dr. Gordon Vanscoy, Pharm.D., MBA, chairman & CEO, RareMed Solutions