They often demand many different things as if it was the grocery list or the letter to Santa Claus. What do you do if the other party presents a very long list of petitions to you? Do you handle one petition at a time, separately as if they were different mini-negotiations, or do you handle them all together?

Don’t attempt to reach an agreement for each item as it arises, it is more effective to negotiate the entire package. When you manage one item at a time they will get more from you because they will keep asking until you stop conceding. To protect yourself, ask them this question: is there anything else you need in order to sign this contract?

You negotiate the entire package

If you are making the demands, try to have them on the table one at a time. Do not go to the second issue until they have satisfied the first. If you are the one responding to many demands, find out which is the most important to them. Then, link them together and propose trading a lesser demand in exchange for major demands. Any agreement is subject to agreement on all issues. The fewer tradables that are linked together in the package, the further you have to concede to get the negotiation going. It costs more to get agreements with only one tradable than with several. More than two tradables open up more trading possibilities than just arguing over a single one, generally price or wages.

You can only make proposals when all of the issues are on the table

Many negotiations remind us too often of a ping-pong game. They ask us for something, and we respond to them. We get an objection, and we deal with it. The other complains, and we handle it. We let ourselves be caught by the logic trap of wanting to give an immediate answer to each of the other’s demands, objections and complaints. You better keep all issues linked until the bargaining phase. If you handle issue by issue they will get more by fighting each of them separately. Don’t consume your trading capital before you have reached an agreement on all issues. For instance, to overcome objections many salespeople make concessions until they have nothing more to give. The client keeps pointing out objections and the salesperson keeps lowering the price.

Get all the issues out on the table before starting to negotiate anything

Link all the issues and you will be able to handle them in a global solution. Do not answer every demand inmediately; listen to everything they have to say. Then, ask if there are any more issues they want to address: “Is there anything else I should know?” or “Is there anything else I can do for you?” Once you know all the issues are on the table you will deal with them globally, not one by one.

In Gavin Kennedy’s excellent book: “Everything is Negotiable” there is a key phrase: Nothing will be agreed until everything is agreed. Any individual agreement on a specific issue will be subject to an agreement covering all issues. You will first establish what the priority demands of the others are. You will then propose a global agreement in which, in exchange for them to abandon their accessory requests, you will give the priority ones. Don’t be caught issue by issue. Any concession in one issue will be conditioned to the agreement on the issues that remain to be negotiated. If you are forced to concede more than you expect in one single issue, you can always return to an earlier issue, linked, to balance.

Experienced negotiators keep the maximum number of variables open from the beginning of the negotiation and avoid reaching isolated agreements, until the bargaining phase. If you keep all issues linked, you will have a greater margin and more flexibility to maneuver.

The more you talk, the more likely you are to make a concession

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