Getting Somewhere in Negotiating: Ask the Right Questions

Getting Somewhere in Negotiating: Ask the Right Questions


Learning to ask the right questions can be difficult, and negotiating is an art, as most of us have heard throughout the years—and upon seeing master negotiators in action, it is hard to disagree; however, once put in the position of negotiating terms for a client, while up against another seasoned attorney, you will probably also find it hard to disagree that negotiating is a learned trait. Sure, you may have a brilliant and logical mind, and possess both the debating skills and charm necessary to win what your client wants, but there is a long list of details to keep in mind while at the negotiating table—and there is always a long list of items that could go wrong too. This is precisely why you should always be armed with the right questions to ask during negotiations (along with researching the other side fully and understanding them as much as possible beforehand):

  • Are there any areas of the negotiation or proposal that you have a problem with or that may prove to be a stumbling block, and if so, why? This one question alone can lead to much greater efficiency in negotiating, and substantial savings of time; after all, you are giving the other side the opportunity to tell you exactly what they don’t like and allow you an opportunity to shore up a contract or a deal quickly.
  • Can you please explain your position on this point? Again, the other side must give you information that will help further negotiations, and although you may have performed a great deal of research on them to begin with, this type of communication allows you to further understand their needs in the negotiation better—and may even invoke some sympathy/empathy on your part.
  • Why should we feel compelled to take this offer? If the other side has presented you with a low-ball offer or one that is even slightly questionable, it is reasonable to give them the benefit of the doubt in explaining themselves, while also making it obvious that you plan to remain firm in negotiations.
  • Why can’t you accept our offer? This is a reversal of the previous question, and again, rather than playing games or shooting in the dark with a variety of strategies, asking point blank may help everyone understand one another better in a short amount of time, rather than poring over different ways to best manipulate the other side.

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.

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