The Negotiation Line Drawing Technique   

When I first started my business life and found myself in negotiations with hard-nosed, unscrupulous people, I felt at a disadvantage in a number of ways. They weren’t at all interested in win:win, and the issue that I found the most difficult to cope with was the addition of additional negotiating points after I’d made a concession.

What happened was that I thought I had all the deal points and a good sense of their position, and then I made some kind of concession. What I then found in was that they suddenly had a new demand that had never been mentioned before, and it immediately put me on the defensive.

What I learned, with the help of a negotiation coach, was that the best way to deal with this was to never to make a concession until I was absolutely certain I had all the deal points. This isn’t immediately easy to figure out, and what you have to do is to write a list of all the open points and then to ask several times if there if there are any other points at issue.

When the other side confirms that there are no more, you say something like “so we’re agreed that these are all the elements of the deal?” When they agree, you reinforce the point with “there’s nothing else to be added?”. When you get confirmation of these points, the technique is to draw a line underneath what you’ve written to underscore the point that there are no more things that can be added.

This technique has served me well over the years, and while it is a bit of a chore to have to write down all the deal points, it is a good discipline and drawing the line has proved to be an extremely effective way of forestalling the other side adding new deal points.