Negotiation Skills Guide: Negotiating Your Way To Success!

Part 3: Establishing Goals and Limitations 

This part of Negotiation Skills will help you identify the goals you’ll want to take to the negotiation session and to set basic limitations on what you might expect or help you decide the point at which you’ll leave the table.

An important aspect of learning negotiation skills is knowing how to identify something you want and then plan and take the steps to acquire it. People sometimes have a difficult time setting goals because they’re more a part of a fantasy or dream than an actual event that you’re going to be working toward.

Before you sit down at the table to negotiate, you should do some soul-­‐searching asking yourself what you really want from the negotiation. Do you want the job, a raise, a new kitchen at your budgeted price?

Write down everything you want from the future negotiation. Some of it may sound fanciful or even unattainable, but this process will help you identify your goals and to visualize them. Then, you can begin to refine them into more realistic pursuits until you have the bare bones of what you want from the negotiation.

If you work with a team, such as in a company, be sure and ask others on the team what they see as goals. You may get some great feedback and asking the other members of a team for their input means that you’ll more than likely have their cooperation in the future.

Prioitizing Your Goals

AIer you’ve done the brainstorming work of figuring out your goals, you’ll need to prioritize them in the proper order. If one of your goals is to purchase a $100,000 car, you don’t just go out and sign papers for credit knowing that you’re not going to be able to pay for it. First, you’ll figure out how to save the money or raise your salary so that you can afford it.

It’s rare that all of your goals will be achieved in one negotiation process, so you’ll have to figure out which goals are most important for you to achieve and concentrate on making sure those are attainable.

Here are some actions you need to take to ensure that you’re prioritizing your goals properly to get the eventual outcome you want from the negotiation process:

· Be specific – Don’t be vague when you’re writing down your goals. For example, if you want a new and better job, give yourself a timeline for achieving the goal. Then, you can break the goal down into steps.

· Set a number of goals – Rather than cram many goals into the negotiation process, narrow them down into a limited number that won’t overwhelm you and confuse the negotiation process.

· Qualify the goals – Be sure your goal setting is realistic. You don’t want to underestimate your negotiation skills, but neither do you want to overstate them. AIer the negotiation process, you’ll want to think you got exactly what you wanted rather than thinking you could have gotten more.


Don’t put all your eggs in one basket – meaning that all of your hopes and dreams shouldn’t depend on one negotiation. If you don’t get the job or raise, all isn’t lost. Have a backup plan and go on to plan the next negotiation. 

Sendng Limitations on the Negotiation

What is the absolute bottom line you’ll accept from the negotiation? This is a personal decision that you’ll have to make. Some examples of limitations would be the maximum number of hours you will work in a week, the highest price you’ll pay for a product or the point at which you’ll walk away from a negotiations.

All of the limitations should be set before entering the negotiation and you should be firm in your thinking. By setting boundaries, you’ll be more decisive in the negotiation process and that can make you more confident and strong.

It’s important that you set realistic boundaries. For example, if you set your limit for the price of a new car much lower than what the market price is, you’re setting yourself up for failure in the negotiations.

Here are some other matters you should take into consideration before making firm assessments of the boundaries you’re setting:

· Alternatives  Consider your alternatives for the negotiation. For example, if you have to have a higher salary and your company might not be willing to oblige, you should think about moving to another company, improving your skills by going to school or taking classes that will make you more valuable to the company.


You might also want to consider starting your own business if you have time or moving to another city or company where the salaries tend to be higher.

· Work with others – Whether it’s a team at work or your family members, it’s good to have other opinions, especially if it’s going to involve a huge change such as moving to another city.


You can gain valuable insight from others and it may be one that you expect the least from. For example, children have a way of saying it plain and simple. You may have been making the issue more complicated than it really is and a child may help you see it a different way.

· Standing firm – Setting limitations from the beginning should make it easier for you to enforce the limits you set. Giving in isn’t an option aIer youve carefully thought out what you want and need from the negotiation. Even if you walk away with nothing, it’s better than caving in and regretting it later.


Just as there are consequences to teenagers who don’t follow the rules of curfew and other rules, there will be consequences of giving in too soon and not getting what you want from the negotiation process.

To gain a broad perspective of how the negotiations will progress, it’s helpful to think about what limitations might be on the table from your counterpart. If you think through his or her possible limitations, it will help you to decide possible changes in your own limitations.

Exercises for Part 3 – Establishing Goals/Limitations

Writing down your thoughts and ideas is always helpful. You can go back later aIer you’ve done more research and expand or delete the ideas you’ve formulated. Here are some good exercises to help you establish your goals and limitations in the negotiation process:

1. Write down all the limitations you can think of for an upcoming negotiation. You may revisit them later, but writing them down will help you process the information so you can whittle them down to viable options.

2. Write down some alternatives to the limitations you’re placing on the negotiation. For example, if the salary for a job is lower than what you wanted, consider if it’s a better opportunity for you. It may be a way to leave a dead-­‐end job that you hate and move forward into another career path.

3. Write down some limitations you can think of for your counterpart. Think of the ways you can successfully address those limitations so that the end result is better for you.

4. Practice your goal/limitation skills. For example, find an online auction (or one you attend) and find something you’d like to have. Think of a fair price and then how much you’d actually spend to get the item. Participate in the auction to see how you stick to your limits.




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