It's Not In The Details

Every negotiation has a plethora of details that are part of the deal. Many times people seem to get immobilized by small details or derailed by sensitive issues and this stalls the process. In a business negotiation especially, each and every detail will have to be addressed, but you will be surprised at how far you can get by keeping your main goal in mind and not getting bogged down by those details.

During the process, some things that were once considered important will become irrelevant, and others that weren't an issue suddenly become deal breakers. This is normal and does not have to mean the end of any negotiation. It just means that you need to change your tactics so that each party walks away from the negotiation table happy with the results.

Here are six tips that will help speed up the process of any negotiation by transcending the details to focus on the big goals.


Every negotiation or transaction has a beginning, middle and end. It is important to lay out all the details that need to be checked off in order to finish. Write a list of everything you could hope to get out of the deal. During this step, you don't necessarily need to be practical. Things that may seem far-fetched to you might be run of the mill for the other side. Then make a list of everything you absolutely must have in order to reach your goal. In other words, your "deal breakers."

For example, maybe getting a particular price on some widgets is your main goal and you can be more .exible about when the items are delivered. Perhaps it's not important what color they are, but they must be a certain size.

Walking into any negotiation without these lists is like going to an exam without studying. You will be unprepared and won't be able to accomplish everything you need to do to be successful. Having a list gives you a path to follow so you don't forget anything.


Give your list a rating system based on importance and simplicity to get through each detail. By identifying your main goals, you will have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished.

So your list might be:

1. price

2. size

3. delivery date

4. color

Realize that you might have to concede on some points in order to gain others. You can even make a big deal about some irrelevant point (in our example, the color) that seems to be important to the other party but not important to you and then concede. This will give the other party the idea that you are being more than .exible, thereby requesting the same from them. If you don't rank your list, you won't know which details can be sacrificed to achieve the more-important goals.

Keep in mind that the importance of each item on the list will change as the negotiations progress. Be sure to listen to the other party so you know what their concerns and details are. As they outline theirs, it might make some of yours irrelevant. You need to be prepared to reassess your ratings as you go.


Don't jump into the negotiations with the biggest item on your list. You will only end up overwhelming the other side and will actually decrease the likelihood of getting what you want. The idea is not to strain. Start with a few of the easy things on your list. This is a great way to break the ice and create a common ground for moving forward. As you reach agreement on smaller issues, each subsequent discussion will go a little easier.


Don't overwhelm the other parties with a list of a million small details. Save some of them for the end of the negotiations. now work together to deal with these more critical details. This is when you should begin to address your most important issue. If you work on too many small issues first, by the time you get to the larger, more important items on your list, the other party will feel like they have already given too much.


As you work through the process, you will need to continually listen to the other side. This will provide an opportunity for you to find out what their big issues are. If you don't pinpoint and address their main goals, you will constantly run into roadblocks when trying to accomplish your own list of goals.

By creating an environment of give and take, each side will be much more willing to listen to the other's goals and needs. You want to be sure to address their main issue, and once this is cleared up for them, the rest of the negotiation will proceed much more smoothly. You never know, their big issue may be very easy for you to accommodate and thus make them much easier to deal with.


After you wrap up some of the larger issues, you can go back to the smaller, unresolved issues on your list. After reaching an agreement on each party's main goal, the smaller objectives won't present a big problem. Many times, the other party is so invested that they will be willing to concede the smaller issues just to wrap up the deal.

Don't forget to constantly reassess your list as you progress through the negotiation. Each agreement you reach will have an effect on the remaining items on your list. It may even make some irrelevant. Stay focused on the bigger picture. Walking into any negotiation with a clear plan and a flexible mind-set will prevent both parties from getting bogged down by smaller details. Transcending the details can be a great way to form the partnership that you envisioned when you first started the negotiation process.

Don't let the details hold you back!

Page 1 of 155
Next Page
Content Library
Dig through our best stories from the magazine, all sorted by category for easy surfing.
Read More
Content Library
Buyer's Guide
Find manufacturers and suppliers in the most extensive searchable database in the industry.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide