Do you frequently conduct negotiations? Whether you know it or not, we all negotiate on a daily basis. If you are involved in a personal relationship, then you have done some fancy negotiating. Your negotiation involved your needs and a completely different set of needs from others that have been met to a mutually-agreeable degree (perhaps after some heated give-and-take discussions). If you don’t think a simple relationship needs some negotiating principles, then you might want to compare your negotiation to international arms control negotiations. Take the discussion that you had with your partner and substitute “building long-range, land-based ballistic missiles” where your partner accused you of spending too much time hanging out with your friends. It will amaze you how much the dynamics of your relationship problems resemble the intensity of most international arms control negotiations.

What goes on with your personal relationship goes on at work, where relationships revolve around cash, power and prestige. You negotiate with your boss for a raise or promotion. You negotiate with your co-workers to divide up duties, to line up backing on ideas and for a host of other needs. Wherever there is a relationship between two people, there is negotiation, so you might as well learn how to negotiate well.


Going to a negotiating session without preparing is like trying to find buried treasure with no clues and no map. You have no direction, no promising avenues to explore, and no clear idea what the treasure might actually be. You’re bound to run into some unpleasant surprises. Try mapping out a course of action by asking yourself these questions well ahead of time:

• What are the areas of common ground that I share with the person across the table?

• What is the other person’s background?

• What kinds of needs and wants does he/she have that I should think about?

• In what mode is this negotiation going to operate?

• Are you facing a ruthlessly competitive opponent who just wants to win at your expense?

• Are you dealing with someone who wants to find an equitable solution?

• What is my opening package?

• What am I trying to get?

• At what point do I walk away?


1. Don’t enter into a negotiation with unreasonably high demands and hoping for a fast compromise.

When we have unreasonably high demands during negotiations, failure in negotiating will often occur. For example, two men haggle over an orange, each wanting the whole thing. Finally, they compromise and split the orange. Each of them gets half the orange instead of the whole as they initially wanted. What neither man realized is that one only wanted the juice of the orange whereas the other only wanted the skin. By compromising on artificially high needs, the men never took enough time to find a creative solution that would have helped them both equally.

2. Don’t express disapproval or close the door on an unfavorable option too fast.

We rarely know all there is to know about a given situation. By closing the door on an option too soon, we might never discover a piece of information that could suddenly make the situation worthwhile. Additionally, things change. What might not have worked last week might be subjected to a whole new set of variables that could make the situation profitable for us this week.

Quick disapproval not only can cheat us out of a transaction, it can also provoke an undesired reaction from the person on the other side of the table. If we present a closed-minded image to the other person, that person is going to see little use in any further discussion or exploration with us.

3. Don’t try to handle the toughest issues first.

People tend to attack the biggest problems first and do the easy ones later. What usually happens is that we never get past that initial hurdle, and we create a lot of frustration. The best thing to do is start with minor issues that are more easily negotiable. Get the relationship going well and build some momentum before tackling the tougher problems.

4. Don’t assume.

When we act as if an assumption is a fact, we are stuck with that premise and the situation often becomes unsuccessful. We shouldn’t assume. We need to find out what the other side really wants. We need to ask the right questions and we must listen to what they are saying.

5. Don’t get defensive and hide information.

Rather than looking at the people on the other side of the table as an enemy from whom we have to hide our information, think of them as part of a team solving a mutual problem. The more information the team can combine, the faster we will reach our goal. We should share what we know with others and encourage others to do likewise.


In order to determine successful negotiations, we can use these four indicators:

1. All our major interests have been met.

2. The critical interests of the other party have been met.

3. The relationship is good. This does not necessarily mean we are friends, but the next time we meet, it should be at least as easy as this session was.

4. The outcome is better than any alternative we can think of.

By now, you may have realized that a low-impact approach to negotiation is recommended. There are no scams, tricks or unethical techniques in successful negotiations. Unless we are dealing with someone only once, such tricks will handicap us in the future. Unless we have a crystal ball, there’s no way of knowing whom we are going to run into again. The most sensible way to look at negotiation is as a relationship working toward a win-win solution to a common problem. Keep an open mind, gather information and remain calm.

J.D. McHenry is the President of Global Jet Services. He has been involved in numerous aviation maintenance and flight operation programs for more than 31 years. His background includes aircraft manufacturer, corporate flight operations, FAR 91 & 135 operations, aircraft management, repair stations, and fixed-base operation. He holds an A&P, IA and Doctorate of Business Management. Global Jet Services goal is to lead the way in aviation maintenance training standards. Global Jet Services and FlightSafety International are business partners offering the “Shared Resources” program. For more information visit

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