Negotiating: Should You Make the First Offer?

Negotiating: Should You Make the First Offer?

first offer

Negotiating can be a complex exercise at times, and making the first offer can sometimes be a challenge. In some cases, both parties may come to the negotiating table with a clear set of goals, hammer out the details, and be done with the whole business of bargaining. Those are the times when your job is easy, bonuses, in comparison to what is often very challenging—and especially when you have a client relying on you.

Before you even get to negotiations, however, there is homework. Mainly, this means getting to know both sides. You may have already ‘interviewed’ your client at the first meeting and now understand what they want but dig deeper. What is the history of their relationship with the other side? What are they expecting you to start with as an offer, and what is the absolute lowest they will accept? If they seem to have a poor attitude toward the other part based on experience, get more details. Have a full picture on entering negotiations, and this means getting background on the other side too. Know as much as possible about them personally and regarding their business. Get a feel for how they are doing financially and what their reputation is in the community.

Information is power, and this will help you and your client form a comprehensive strategy in the negotiations. Someone must make the first offer, and in doing so not only do you establish a relative position of power in the discussion, but you have also created what is known as the ‘anchor,’ a point from which the other party usually becomes fixed on and will work from. Putting yourself in this position is usually recommended, and it also saves hours of posturing for you and your client. This isn’t necessarily the time to play a bunch of head games, either. While you may want to start out substantially higher than what you would expect the other side to agree to, if you are too far out of the ballpark they may just walk away from the negotiations before you even get started.

You can set the tone of the meeting to your advantage also by preparing a comfortable and relaxed setting for the meeting, or if you want to be more corporate and hope to hurry everyone in and out as quickly as possible—a more austere scenario without comforts such as snacks or even beverages. Become adept at reading body language as well as being understanding of both sides. Hoping for a win-win and being as cooperative as possible will earn you credibility among your colleagues, and they may remember this positive attitude when you face each other again in a legal setting.

Are you interested in becoming a skilled lawyer and negotiator? Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your 4-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.