A useful start point is to train yourself to observe and recognize what is happening during a negotiation. The negotiation tactics observation record shown in Figure 8.9 can provide a useful framework for recording your observations. If you have the opportunity to observe other parties negotiating, use the record sheet to keep track of what is going on. Maybe you could accompany a relative or friend when they go out to purchase a new car. Alternatively, you might be present during a negotiation at work. Try and identify some situations where you can sit back and observe what is going on. Accurate observation is more difficult when you are actively involved in the negotiations, so start by observing others.
When you have begun to develop some skill in keeping track of what is going on and identifying the tactics that people employ, you might decide to switch the focus of your observation onto yourself. Immediately after a negotiating session, think through what happened. After a while you will be able to build up a profile of your normal negotiating style. Consider whether you favour certain tactics and ignore others. Try and identify your typical approach. Are you inclined towards being competitive or collaborative?

Once you have built up a picture of how you behave typically you might consider different ways of behaving that could help you to achieve a more satisfactory agreement. At this stage begin to plan the ‘how’ of a negotiation. Think through the strategy and tactics. Try and anticipate how the other party might behave, what tactics they could employ, how they will react to your moves.
The ‘what’ of a negotiation also requires careful planning. Be clear about your target outcome. Ensure that you have taken account of the main variables that this will involve (product specification, price, delivery, payment terms, etc.). Think about your ultimate fall-back position. What is the limit you must not go beyond. Seek out clues that will help you identify what your opponent’s target and limit are likely to be. Even though you will only be able to make a subjective assessment of what the other party’s target, limit and key variables are, this assessment will provide a useful basis for planning your own strategies. 
Decide on the most appropriate opening bid. The negotiation preparation sheet presented in Figure 8.10 provides a useful aide mémoire for recording key planning information. Assess the importance of each variable for all the parties involved in the negotiation. It can be less costly if you offer concessions on your low priority variables and more beneficial if you can persuade the other party to concede on the variables that are most important to you.

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