Skills in Negotiations

Presuming: It is deciding on something which will be very likely to be true, although you are not certain about it.

By this skill you identify an area where agreement is still to be reached and simply presume an appropriate point at which you feel your opponent will agree. You then state it in a way that makes it seem clear and obvious that the matter can be closed there and then. When presuming however, take it one step, at a time. If you are greedy and presume too much at once, you may meet opposition. Approach this technique by nibbling, not be biting.

Paraphrasing: It is putting what has been agreed in the form of words.

Paraphrasing: This consists of putting what you think was agreed, but which was not stated clearly, into a form of words that particularly suits you. In negotiation, this skill enables you to achieve two different objectives namely:

1) to clarify what has been agreed with a different form of words so that, it is quite clear to both parties what was intended, but also
2) to place a slightly different emphasis or meaning on what has been agreed in outline previously.

Probing is asking questions or making enquires in an indirect way to extract some information.


Skill is useful when you are not sure what the other side might accept and wish to obtain further information prior to presuming. This of course, is something that you have been doing throughout the negotiation process, but it comes into its own again on points of detail at the end. The probe may also take the form of the simple enquiry as to what was in fact agreed on a particular issue, but it is essential to ensure that such an opening does not give your opponent the opportunity to make a significant gain out of your question.

Prevarication: It is deliberately avoiding to do something which you ought to do or avoiding to tell people something which you ought to tell them.

Prevarication: You should avoid this on your own part at the end and you should also be on the lookout for it from the others. Prevarication can arise for two principal reasons:

1) the belief that there is still something to be squeezed out of the deal;
2) uncertainty about certain terms negotiated.

If, alternatively, the person opposite you is inherently indecisive, that would have become obvious during the negotiation and, should not be a revelation solely during the close. Prevarication has to be dealt with as matters progress either by:

1) agreeing each issue carefully in turn and confirming it, so that there are never any large steps, simply a number of small ones, or
2) insisting that the prevaricating negotiator breaks off and returns later with a decision so that the next issues can be dealt with.

Where the opponent is prevaricating in order to draw more benefit out of the deal, that has to be dealt with firmly and issues should not be reopened for further debate where they have been agreed previously. If an attempt at prevarication is made on the basis of lack of clarity in what had been agreed, your notes and recollections should be put clearly and positively to avoid covering the same ground again, perhaps with a different conclusion.

But prevarication arising from genuine doubt needs to be dealt with by taking the doubter through the agreed features and ticking them off one at a time in order to identify which of the points gives rise to the concern. These can be reviewed and confirmed with the necessary positive messages being given about each.

You should also develop the skills to identify and rectify mistakes which are often made quite deliberately to gain advantage in a negotiation or some mistakes may occur through genuine oversight. For examples:

1) when running through points of agreement during a negotiation, one or more points can be erroneously stated in the hope that the other side does not notice.
2) Similarly, in summing up an agreement that is to be confirmed in writing;
3) When writing down the terms and deliberately changing something that was agreed and claiming it to have been a drafting error or even a typist’s error which is a frequently used excuse.

Making the Close:

Beware, of the jump to close, simply because you wish to retain the initiative. When the headline issues have been dealt with, or largely so, it is too easy to sweep away the others as of little relevance and either not deal with them at all or assume that they will be sorted out by somebody else at a later date. There is certainly no harm in deterring points for later negotiation but, where that is done, it should be a clear and conscious decision rather than an act of carelessness. The jump to close may be your choice because:

1) you do not wish to handle the detail;
2) you wish to be seen as having achieved a good deal quickly;
3) there was a deadline to be met;
4) you did not have a grasp of some of the issues and felt it better for them to be dealt with by others.