Ideally, negotiation should always end in a win/win outcome, but many people tend to forget that and view it as something far more competitive and aggressive. Knowing how not to negotiate is probably a good start at honing your actual negotiating skills, because it prevents you from making common mistakes early on, and allows you to practise your technique over time.

Firstly, you should have a structure to the negotiation. This usually starts with pleasantries and then straight to business - with someone asking for what they want. If, for example, imagine you're trying to negotiate a deal on used cars to be used as business vehicles. Many negotiating gurus say "never be the one to name the price first", but this is untrue if you know the going rate and how it corresponds to how much you can afford. If you would like in-depth knowledge on how to negotiate, take a look at the training negotiation courses we regularly run.

Preparing to negotiate - know your market

Let's say that the used cars you want, generally sell on the second hand market for a thousand pounds. However, it would be unwise to offer a thousand because you have a bargaining chip - you're making a bulk purchase. So you should offer a lower amount, eight hundred for example. Then you'll need a little manoeuvrability and the ability for the other party to negotiate the price upwards, so you go in with seven hundred and fifty. This is a 25% discount from the going rate - so not a ridiculously laughable amount - and it shows that you know the market rates too.

Negotiation can involve walking away

You should always go into a negotiation knowing that sometimes, it's impossible for two people to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion. Just because you're negotiating doesn't mean you have to actually come out of it having made a deal - it's all right to walk away, and many people forget this in the heat of the moment and end up giving away more than they initially planned to.

Recognise false economies

This brings us onto some common tactics and ploys used in negotiation - some of them are underhand, but some are an essential part of business. Recognising them for what they are prevents you from falling into common traps and losing the upper hand. In the above example, perhaps the car salesman says that he'll charge you a little more and he'll personally sort out any problems you have, whenever he's in the office. On the face of it, this sounds like a good deal and a good reason to pay a little more. However, he may well be only in the office once a fortnight! It's these kind of false economic bargaining chips are sometimes used in the negotiating process.

Get experience in other areas of your life

Those who haven't negotiated before should try and get some experience under their belt before taking on bigger and more complex deals. A lot of negotiating skills can be taught - if you think you need to brush up on yours, then there are lots of training courses out there to choose from, at all levels. However try to negotiate in more aspects of your life, whether it's a car insurance quote or just paying for something at a flea market, get haggling, get negotiating, and try and imprint it on your psyche - because the more experienced you are, the better you'll be!