Negotiation Skills


Dilanka Wickramasinghe


Negotiation is a process of communication between two or more parties with the aim of reaching an agreement. Effective negotiation skills are essential in achieving a successful outcome.

Boston Negotiation Group Model

Let’s explore how the following concepts — Strategy, Skill, Tactics, and Preparation — can be applied to improve negotiation skills using the following acronyms — BASE, LEAN, CLEVER, and HEART.

1. Preparation: BASE stands for:

  • Background: Gather background information about the negotiation, the other party, and their interests.
  • Alternatives: Identify alternative solutions and options.
  • Support: Build a team and gather support from colleagues or stakeholders.
  • Expectations: Clarify the expectations and objectives of the negotiation.

By using the BASE preparation, negotiators can gather relevant information, develop alternative solutions, and clarify their expectations, resulting in a better-prepared negotiator, leading to more successful outcomes.

2. Skill: LEAN stands for:

  • Listening: Listen actively and attentively to the other party to understand their interests and concerns. 80/20 rule — 80% listening and 20% talking.
  • Empathy: Put yourself in the other party’s shoes and understand their perspective.
  • Analyzing: Analyze the situation, the interests of both parties, and possible solutions.
  • Negotiating: Use effective communication skills to negotiate an agreement.
7–38–55 rule

By applying the LEAN skills, negotiators can improve their ability to understand and analyze the situation, communicate effectively, and achieve a successful outcome.

3. Tactics: CLEVER stands for:

  • Creativity: Use creative solutions to reach an agreement.
  • Logical Argument: Use logical arguments to support your position.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Understand the emotional dynamics of the negotiation and respond accordingly.
  • Value Creation: Create value for both parties by exploring mutually beneficial solutions.
  • Exchange: Trade concessions or offers to achieve a mutually acceptable agreement.
  • Relationship Building: Build a positive relationship with the other party.

By using the CLEVER tactics, negotiators can enhance their ability to find creative solutions, build a positive relationship, and achieve a mutually beneficial agreement.

4. Strategy: HEART stands for:

  • Honesty: Be honest and transparent in your communication. Do not mislead or deceive the other party.
  • Empathy: Understand the perspective of the other party and consider their interests and needs.
  • Assertiveness: Clearly state your position and defend it with reasonable arguments.
  • Respect: Show respect for the other party’s views and opinions.
  • Trust: Build trust with the other party by fulfilling your promises and commitments.

By incorporating the HEART strategy, negotiators can build trust, reduce misunderstandings, and achieve better outcomes.

In summary, applying these concepts — BASE, LEAN, CLEVER, and HEART to negotiation can enhance the ability of negotiators to communicate effectively, understand the other party’s interests and concerns, find creative solutions, build positive relationships, and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.