Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 4,123 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a Business Contract?

Post Project Now

What Is Negotiation?

Negotiation is a strategic discussion between multiple parties, usually resolving issues or persuading one another to reach a favorable agreement.

Often, negotiation is used as part of a business transaction. Negotiating can help all parties reach a compromise. Ideally, this compromise leaves all parties satisfied with the final deal, but in some cases, negotiating may only leave one party at an advantage.

Depending on the contract or issue at hand, a negotiation can lead to mutual benefit or minimize damages to multiple parties.

Contract negotiation aims to reach an agreement rooted in mutual trust and best interest. Therefore, the final result should provide a collective positive outcome.

While one party may leave with a significant advantage, the other may still benefit through conflict resolution.

This article provides a detailed breakdown of negotiation and how the negotiating process works.

5 Stages of the Negotiation Process

Step 1. Issue Identification and Preparation

Before entering a discussion, all parties must agree upon the relevant negotiating topics. For example, in a business proposal, you should be clear about what advantage you pose and how the other parties can benefit from accepting your offer.

The issues at hand should be specified when resolving conflict, including their impacts, implications, and limitations.

If you enter a dialogue in hopes of compromise, you must also be able to recognize the other parties’ perspectives. Without openness and mutual understanding, building trust or reaching a resolution is challenging.

To prepare, compile a list of relevant facts and details about your topic. This should include:

  • All relevant parties and their level of involvement.
  • The issue(s) at hand and desired alternative outcomes.
  • An understanding of each parties’ own advantages and disadvantages, i.e., what they stand to gain or lose through compromise.
  • Any relevant policies, rules, or laws that can support your position.
  • A clear outline to delineate the conversation and prevent arguments.

The preparation stage is also when arranging an appropriate meeting point and time for all parties. If there is a contract involved, all documentation should be prepared ahead of time.

Additionally, you may wish to consult with a business lawyer and have them arrange a negotiation time.

Formal discussions for business transactions are more apt for large-scale organizations. However, small businesses are more likely to hold discussions internally and generally without legal supervision.

However, you may still decide to have a lawyer review an investment or service contract before your meeting.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Karen S.

1 project on CC
View Profile

Ralph S.

2 projects on CC
View Profile

Michael M.

183 projects on CC
View Profile

Benjamin E.

46 projects on CC
View Profile

Step 2. Start Discussion on Neutral Ground

Everyone involved in a business transaction or other type of negotiation has a similar goal: to benefit the most and reduce any liability or damage.

Before stating your own argument, begin the discussion by establishing mutual trust. There are three critical communication skills to utilize during this process:

  • Asking clear questions.
  • Listening attentively to learn, not respond.
  • Clarifying and summarizing what’s been heard.

Equality is integral to a fruitful discussion and desirable outcome. Although you may not reach the compromise you desire, it will be impossible to find any resolution if any party is overly defensive or aggressive about their stance.

Step 3. Express Your Goals

You may enter the dialogue with a quid pro quo mentality: the intention to do something for the other party in exchange for a favor.

In this case, you must also be fully aware of and prepared to respond to any potential concessions. Concessions occur by asking one or more participating parties to cease a certain behavior. This is often seen in political negotiations, though it is also frequent in business.

To help reach a favorable outcome as quickly as possible, goals should be clearly expressed at the start of the conversation. Dialogue should not center around the legitimacy of any desired result.

Instead, it should focus on why the said outcome is favorable and what measures can be taken on both sides to resolve.

Step 4. Strive for a Mutually Beneficial Outcome

No party should be negotiating entirely for themselves. Instead, the goal is to reach a positive outcome for everyone. However, the extent of benefits may vary depending on the situation.

However, though a win-win solution may not happen in every case, all negotiating discussions can lead to peace and mutual agreement.

As seen with negotiations between business lawyers, all parties must be willing to listen, understand, and compromise. While multiple parties may have their own goals, they should all share the desire to reach a positive outcome.

To learn more about negotiation skills, you can review this article.

Types of Negotiation

There are several types of negotiation, all of which serve their own purpose depending on the circumstances. All involve some form of strategic discussion, but while some may intend to persuade, others seek to find a compromise or resolve issues.

Below are the two main types of negotiations that you might encounter.

Type 1. Distributive Negotiation

Distributive negotiation involves concessions and conflict resolution. This discussion centers around resolving a problem, such as the final price in a real estate contract or greater benefits from a business proposal.

In this type of discussion, both parties enter with a fixed desired outcome that they know will not be the final result. So, instead, they bargain for the most favorable alternative and, if the discussion succeeds, settle on a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Type 2. Integrative Negotiation

Interrogative or interest-based negotiations leverage advantage by respecting each party’s desire for a different outcome. Rather than settle on a specific outcome, this form of strategic discussion helps expand the potential of outcomes for all parties.

While there may be some concessions, they are more likely to adopt a quid pro quo structure that ultimately benefits each party through a series of trade-offs.

4 Most Important Elements of Negotiation

Before entering a discussion, you should know the four key elements of any successful negotiation.

Element 1. Trust

All negotiating parties must have mutual trust. Otherwise, there is little hope for a successful outcome. While trust may not exist immediately, it can be built by offering different advantages and trade-offs for a shared arrangement.

Element 2. Understanding

Every party has to understand the other’s vantage point. Rather than argue the rightness or wrongness of an argument, parties must recognize that each one has its own reasoning. Through listening, respectful dialogue can lead to greater understanding between all parties.

Element 3. Open-mindedness

No matter what you hope to achieve, you must enter a conversation with an open mind. Willingness to consider alternatives and even make some sacrifices can lead to the healthiest compromise for everyone involved.

Element 4. Scope

A narrow scope can limit opportunities for resolution. Conversely, with a larger scope, the negotiating parties may achieve even more excellent outcomes with a larger scope than they initially anticipated.

Negotiation Examples

These examples can help showcase the different types of negotiation and how employing understanding and mutual trust can help reach desirable outcomes.

Example 1. A Real Estate Contract

A homeowner wishes to sell their property for $500,000 and net a profit of $150,000 after paying all the respective costs. They receive an offer for $450,000, but they are not willing to settle for that price. Instead, they propose an alternative price to the buyer for $480,000, which receives a counter-offer of $470,000.

Ultimately, both parties agree to meet in the middle of their offers. As a result, the homeowner sells their property for a final cost of $475,000.

Example 2. A Business Transaction

Using an investment contract and service contract, a business decides to expand its supply chain and find a new manufacturer for its products.

They meet with several potential suppliers who offer different price points and advantages.

Through negotiation, the business successfully manages to acquire two new suppliers. The first will provide double the initial supplier’s inventory for 10% less.

The second will provide a more significant discount for a marginally smaller output, ultimately bridging the gap between suppliers.

The business can expand its inventory, save money and provide more goods to its customers without increasing operational expenses.

This article provides even further detailed examples of negotiation strategy.

Tips To Develop Negotiation Skills

Developing negotiation skills takes time, but it does get easier with practice. So before you enter any dialogue, these tips can help you improve your communication skills.

  • Practice clearly stating your arguments, speaking with facts and details over emotion.
  • Learn how to listen to others and ask specific follow-up questions.
  • Take turns in real-life conversations, noticing when you are more likely to talk over someone or put your opinion before theirs.
  • Build confidence in your arguments, but recognize that your ideal outcome will not always happen.
  • Be open-minded, and accept reasoning with others to reach alternative solutions.

This article can teach you more about negotiating, including what to do when your efforts do not pay off.

Get Help with a Negotiation

Do you need help with a negotiation? Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive quotes from lawyers for negotiation support. All lawyers in our network are vetted by our team and peer-reviewed by our customers for you to review before hiring.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Lawyers

Orin K. on ContractsCounsel
View Orin
5.0 (3)
Member Since:
October 24, 2021

Orin K.

Free Consultation
New York
19 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
New York Law School

I'm an employment lawyer. I counsel and represent employees in all professions, from hourly workers to doctors and executives, and all in between. I also counsel and represent employers in many aspects of employment law.

Abhijit "Beej" D. on ContractsCounsel
View Abhijit "Beej"
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
October 25, 2021

Abhijit "Beej" D.

Managing Director
Free Consultation
Boston, MA
23 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MA, NY
University of Michigan Law School

Beej serves as counsel to innovators and entrepreneurs in a wide array of legal and business matters worldwide.

Scott S. on ContractsCounsel
View Scott
4.9 (14)
Member Since:
October 27, 2021

Scott S.

Free Consultation
New York, NY
16 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Benjamin Cardozo School of Law

Scott graduated from Cardozo Law School and also has an English degree from Penn. His practice focuses on business law and contracts, with an emphasis on commercial transactions and negotiations, document drafting and review, employment, business formation, e-commerce, technology, healthcare, privacy, data security and compliance. While he's worked with large, established companies, he particularly enjoys collaborating with startups. Prior to starting his own practice in 2011, Scott worked in-house for over 5 years with businesses large and small. He also handles real estate leases, website and app Terms of Service and privacy policies, and pre- and post-nup agreements.

Reuben O. on ContractsCounsel
View Reuben
Member Since:
October 22, 2021

Reuben O.

Senior Managing Attorney
Free Consultation
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in ID, WA
The University of Iowa

As an entrepreneur at heart, I enjoy working with business owners and executives on a variety of corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions, corporate financing, corporate governance, public and private securities offerings, privacy regulation and early-stage corporate matters including formation. As a lawyer and business professional, I understand the value of providing personal service and focused legal answers to clients navigating a rapidly changing regulatory environment. Whether in Aerospace, Consumer Goods, or Technology, I find great success in work collaboratively with clients to strategical structure their business or implementing strategic growth-oriented financing opportunities.

Thaddeus W. on ContractsCounsel
View Thaddeus
Member Since:
October 22, 2021

Thaddeus W.

Free Consultation
Los Angeles, Ventura County, New York City
26 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, NY
University of Notre Dame Law School

Experienced legal counsel to entrepreneurs, small businesses, and investors. Advising clients starting, buying, selling, operating, financing, and investing in businesses // U.S. Army Veteran // Ironman Triathlete, Marathoner, Open Water Swimmer, USAT Triathlon Coach // Lover of Dogs, Cribbage, Craft Beer, Bourbon, and Cigars

Nichole C. on ContractsCounsel
View Nichole
Member Since:
October 22, 2021

Nichole C.

Free Consultation
17 Yrs Experience
Licensed in KY
University of Louisville, Brandeis School of Law

Licensed attorney in KY and Federally JD, 2006 University of Louisville MBA, 2006 University of Louisville BS, 2001 Berea College Licensed Title Agent Arbitrator and Certified Mediator Business Consultant Adjunct Professor, Law and Business

Michelle F. on ContractsCounsel
View Michelle
Member Since:
January 24, 2022

Michelle F.

Free Consultation
New York
5 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center

I provide comprehensive legal and business consulting services to entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses. My practice focuses on start-up foundations, business growth through contractual relationships and ventures, and business purchase and sales. Attorney with a demonstrated history of working in the corporate law industry and commercial litigation. Member of the Bar for the State of New York and United States Federal Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, Southern and eastern District Bankruptcy Courts and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Skilled in business law, federal court commercial litigation, corporate governance and debt restructuring.

Steve C. on ContractsCounsel
View Steve
Member Since:
October 26, 2021

Steve C.

Principal | Attorney
Free Consultation
24 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Loyola Law School

I am a corporate and business attorney in Orange County, CA. I advise start-ups, early-growth companies, investors, and entrepreneurs in various sectors and industries including technology, entertainment, digital media, healthcare, and biomedical.

Oscar B. on ContractsCounsel
View Oscar
Member Since:
October 28, 2021

Oscar B.

Free Consultation
Saint Petersburg, FL
21 Yrs Experience
Licensed in FL
Stetson University, College of Law

Oscar is a St. Petersburg native. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Stetson University, College of Law. A former US Army Judge Advocate, Oscar has more than 20 years of experience in Estate Planning, Real Estate, Small Business, Probate, and Asset Protection law. A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, and a second-generation Gator, he received a B.A. from the University of Florida and a J.D. from Stetson University’s College of Law. Oscar began working in real estate sales in 1994 prior to attending law school. He continued in real estate, small business law, and Asset Protection as an associate attorney with the firm on Bush, Ross, Gardner, Warren, & Rudy in 2002 before leaving to open his own practice. Oscar also held the position of Sales & Marketing Director for Ballast Point Homes separately from his law practice. He is also a licensed real estate broker and owner of a boutique real estate brokerage. As a captain in the US Army JAG Corps, he served as a Judge Advocate in the 3rd Infantry Division and then as Chief of Client Services, Schweinfurt, Germany, and Chief of Criminal Justice for the 200th MP Command, Ft. Meade, Maryland. He is a certified VA attorney representative and an active member of VARep, an organization of real estate and legal professionals dedicated to representing and educating veterans. Oscar focuses his practice on real small business and asset protection law.

Rachael D. on ContractsCounsel
View Rachael
Member Since:
October 28, 2021

Rachael D.

Free Consultation
New York
11 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Touro Law

We help simplify every transaction and provide a superior level of customer service to create long lasting and trusted relationships with our clients. Our goal is to guide our clients with practical and zealous legal representation and eliminate the difficult nature of any legal transaction.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call