"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude." 1

The success of long term complex collaborative projects, partnerships or mergers is dependant of the capacity of the partnering organisations to negotiate outcomes that meet their needs and those of their clients and to successfully manage any conflict that arises through sound dispute resolutions processes.

Organisations may negotiate regularly on simple issues, without paying much attention to the process.

When undertaking serious negotiation however it is wise to contribute thought, time and effort into the methodology we will use.  In a survey of  American executives all considered  prior  preparation and planning, as most important single element effecting the outcome of major negotiation.

The negotiation planning guide will help you clarify your thinking and your issues. For negotiations associated with complex collaborations, mergers or partnerships, formal meetings should be conducted. Do your planning before the meeting and if you are calling the meeting, before setting the agenda.

Negotiation planning guide


  • Be able to clearly articulate outcome you hope to reach through the negotiation
  • Clearly identify areas of common ground: i.e. shared principles, philosophy
  • Identify areas of mutual benefit: improved client outcomes, shared costs for infrastructure
  • List the key areas you need to negotiate on and prioritise them.
  • Review the list and decide if all these issues really relevant.
  • Will you deal with the most important point first, or last?
  • Are you clear “why” you want something, rather than just “what” you want? Sometimes the outcome you want may be available by a number of pathways.
  • How will you evaluate your progress as you proceed?
  • Are you and the other partners agreed on the key issues for negotiation?
  • Are there any questions you must ask to clarify the perspective of other partners? Write them down.
  • Are there some points on which you are not prepared to negotiate? If so, declare these matters openly at the start of the meeting.
  • Are there things you are prepared to trade off?
  • How do you think the other party will proceed?
  • What are the other party’s priorities likely to be?
  • Recognise that if you take a very strong position, other parties are likely to respond equally as strongly. Keep things calm.
  • Know when to walk away. Where there are major differences in values, principles and philosophy, or where an agreement cant be reached, end the negotiation with those parties and seek other ways to reach your required outcome..



1 American Philosopher and Psychologist, leader of the philosophical movement of Pragmatism, 1842-1910

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