5 Must-Ask Questions for a Successful Negotiation

5 questions you must ask during a negotiation to get the best outcome for yourself and your organization.

Originally posted by Management Innovation eXchange. Republished with permission.


A negotiation helps two parties to settle on a mutually beneficial agreement. Understanding how to negotiate and ask the right questions is important. Negotiating skills help you to see the other individual’s perspective and express your arguments in a constructive manner. 

You want and need information and posing the right questions can help you elicit it rather than facing indifference or emotional resistance. Here are some questions you need to ask. 

1. Why do you feel this way about the situation?

Visitor management system with legal document electronic signaturesIf you don’t understand the reasoning behind the position taken by the other party, there’s no harm in asking directly for their rationale. Once you clearly understand the other party’s thought processes and where they’re coming from rather than just the outcome they want, you can adjust your response and see areas where you can find a valuable compromise. They may even have ideas for provisions that you can both agree upon.

Open-ended questions like “What do you think of this option as a solution?” invite the other party to participate and offer their views. For example, if the person has issues about data security, suggesting the use of a visitor management system could allay their concerns. Greetly visitor management system captures electronic signatures on NDAs and stores them safely to protect sensitive data. 

2. Which specific provisions are non-negotiable? 

It is important to understand the other party’s priorities in the negotiation and which elements they are not willing to compromise on. You are also likely to have certain elements that are non-negotiable for you. 

When you know what each party values most, you can create a strategy that includes both of your important provisions. When you both feel supported and heard, it makes negotiation easier. 

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3. What concerns you most about my proposal?

The other party may be making shallow excuses or short-sighted objections due to not thinking your offer through properly. If there are legitimate reasons for concern, you have the opportunity to address them. 

It may help to break a proposal down into individual points, especially if you can highlight specific areas of concern. This means you can address concerns on an individual basis. This may result in small agreements that may not have been reached when looking at the proposal as a whole. By getting past certain stumbling blocks, you can expedite the negotiation process. 

4. Do you have proof to validate your position?

Digital receptionist person verification through driver's license scanningIf you’re negotiating a written agreement or contract, you need to know that what is being presented is factual. Verification prior to signing on the dotted line will prevent having to try and reverse an unsatisfactory deal which can be unpleasant and difficult. Is there any documentation that can validate what is being presented? 

Simply trusting that certain claims are valid will not serve you well in such a negotiation. Ensure that the other party provides thorough details and information as without all the relevant information, it is difficult for you to make a well-informed decision

5. What are your suggestions for a compromise?

Most of the time, you ask questions to get the other party to collaborate with you and not work against you. The openness to finding a compromise on both sides makes negotiation easier. It’s more challenging to come to a decision that’s mutually beneficial if one party is not willing to make concessions. 

If you ask the other party for their suggestions for a compromise, you give them more control over the proceedings. When both parties are equally involved in discussing solutions and compromises, the chances of coming to a fair and balanced agreement are higher. 

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