Sage advice: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
How it applies: Find out as much as you can about the track record of the person you’re negotiating with. It’s equally important to be firm about your optimal outcome and how much you’re willing to concede before calling off negotiations.
In action: Be clear without being rude, ask them to put themselves in your shoes.
Sage advice: “Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”
How it applies: These days, we call it “body language.” Posture and facial expressions give clues to your competition about how much they can get away with.
In action: Enter a room with squared shoulders and a pleasant expression; be confident, assertive yet relaxed.
Sage Advice: “Engage people with what they expect. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds.”
How it applies: Start off with casual conversation not related to the negotiations to form a genuine human connection.
In action: Soften up your opponent to make them more favorably inclined toward your requests.
WEIGH YOUR WORDS
Sage Advice: “You always win by preventing your defeat.”
How it applies: When you’re trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the weaker you appear.
In action: Be concise, but avoid asking yes/no questions.
Sage Advice: “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
How it applies: Ask everything you can think of and get complete answers and commitments.
In action: Whether you’re negotiating a multi-million dollar venture or a discount on your contract, get the completed deal in writing.