Golden Business Ideas

Negotiating Nuggets

If you enter a negotiation with the single-minded, macho goal of beating down your opponent, you’ve probably already lost the first round. That’s because, like it or not, your body language—demeanor and facial expressions, if not your actual words—will tip off most opponents, who then either will be so wary that they’ll resist making any concessions out of spite or they’ll simply recognize further talk is fruitless and terminate the negotiation.

Steps to good negotiatiog:

  • Prepare a detailed memo to yourself that lists what you must have in any deal, what you’d like to have and what you can live without. Likewise, decide what you cannot give up, what you are willing to lose if you must and what you can give away painlessly. Be sure to include an ample collection of things you can give away because, distributed at the right moment—such as when there is an apparent stalemate—give-aways can lubricate tough-going talks.
  • Negotiation is give and take. Don’t give anything away without taking something in return. Follow that rule; it will strengthen your position and make each request you make more credible. It also tends to grease the wheels of negotiation. Do not consider anything you give away as trivial: What may be trivial to you may be valuable to the other side.
  • An absolute no-no: Never accept a first offer—no matter how attractive. Reason: If you do, your opponent will assume he or she should have initially asked for more and will likely try to make up the “loss” in subsequent parts of the negotiations.
  • Never assume you understand the terms of the deal. Keep asking questions until you are sure of the details. Demand detailed confirmations.
  • Spend more time listening than talking.
  • Once you come to an agreement, shut up. Deals often are upset when a negotiator keeps talking about the terms.
  • Don’t rush the talks. Guard against interruptions: Hold your calls, turn off your cell phone, put on an air of calm and patience. If you rush, either you or your counterpart will come away feeling that a better deal could have been struck. And if you negotiate in the future—and you probably will—that memory will stain those talks.

More Brainstorming Ideas

Ralph R. Mlady Jr., CPA, a product analyst for Progressive Insurance, Mayfield Village, Ohio, read the July item in this column on brainstorming tips and he sent along these additional ideas that he uses in his business meetings:
Invite everyone to compile brainstorming lists of their own. When they’ve finished, ask each person to read one idea. Go around the room as many times as needed until every item has been presented.

Eliminate duplicates, but be careful not to erase variations that may sound similar but contain different elements. The differences will become more evident when the group has time to discuss each item in detail at the end of the brainstorming session.

An Invitation

The JofA publishes a monthly collection of Golden Business Ideas and invites readers to contribute their favorites (for attribution, if you like).

Send your ideas to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via either e-mail ( ) or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881.


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