Shell’s Negotiation Worksheet

by F.

Richard Shell in Bargaining for Advantage has a nice worksheet you can use to prepare for negotiating. (See below for a PDF version I created.) Walking through this, and writing out brief answers, can really calm you down and de-emotionalize a negotiation.

I would also suggest writing down the reasons for your asks, couching the asks as “I need ______ because _________.” Research shows that when you say “because,” people take your demands more seriously. The most interesting study on this concerned trying to butt into a line for a Xerox machine. A researcher approached a line and said, “I need to make copies. Can I cut in front of you?” Most said, “No.”

The same researcher approached another line and said, “I need to make copies because I’m in a hurry and have a presentation.” Many more agreed. It turns out the “reason” doesn’t even have to be very good: when the researcher said, “I need to cut into line and make copies because I need to make copies,” the subjects were just as likely to allow him to cut in as when there was a “good” reason. The explanation seems to be that we want to feel like we are acting for a reason—even if someone else provides that reason for us (i.e., “because”).

Anyhoo, here is the worksheet:

I. The Problem

  • I must negotiate with [person] to [solve what problem?]

II. Goals and Decision Makers

  • My specific, high expectations:
  • My bottom line:
  • Target-decision makers:
  • Influencers (should I negotiate with these people first?):

III. Underlying Needs and Interests (shared, ancillary, conflicting)

  • Mine:
  • Theirs:

IV. Leverage

  • If there is no deal, what do I lose?
  • What steps or alternatives will reduce these losses?
  • If there is no deal, what do they lose?
  • Can I influence their alternatives to make their status quo worse?
  • Leverage favors: Me? Other party? About even?
  • Who has the most to lose overall from “no deal”?

V. Possible Proposals

  • Build on shared interests?
  • Bridge conflicting interests?
  • Be creative?

VI. Authoritative Standards and Norms

  • Mine:
  • Theirs:
  • My counter argument:
  • Mine:
  • Theirs:
  • My counter argument:

VII. Third Party Moves

  • Can I use a third party as leverage?
  • As an excuse?
  • As an audience?
  • Coalition partner?

VIII. Situation Strategy and Analysis

  • Situation as I see it is a:
  • Transaction?
  • Relationship?
  • Balanced concerns?
  • Tacit coordination?
  • My basic style is:
  • So, in this situation, I need to be more:
  • Situation as they see it is:
  • Transaction?
  • Relationship?
  • Balanced concerns?
  • Tacit coordination?
  • Their expected strategy:
  • Competitive?
  • Problem solving?
  • Compromise?
  • Avoiding?
  • Accommodating?

IX. Best Modes of Communication

  • Agent?
  • Face-to-Face?
  • Teleconference?
  • Telephone?
  • E-mail?
  • Instant messaging?

X. Overall Positioning Theme

  • A short statement that sums up our underlying purpose in this negotiation:

Update: Here’s a Cheat Sheet that I put together (PDF). Enjoy.

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