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3 things you need to know to counter a first offer in a negotiation

Let’s look at one of the most debated issues in negotiation: First offers!

People have very strong opinions about first offers and many believe the other party should always make the opening bid. According to the scientific literature however, – there is no evidence in support of this argument.

Actually, the first person to anchor the negotiation with a legitimate offer has the advantage.

As previously discussed, anchors work to psychologically frame the negotiation whereby all counteroffers are benchmarked against the initial proposition.

In fact, initial offers in a negotiation correlate 85% with the final agreement.

So how do you protect yourself against a first offer that is quite different than what you were planning to propose?

1. Immediately counteroffer with a legitimate proposition – meaning, there is justification for your ask (think precedent, years of experience, market value…)

2. Frame your counteroffer as an invitation to brainstorm alternatives that are suitable to both parties

3. Be assertive – but don’t be rude

Below is an example of how you can respond. The context is a customer-vendor relationship and was inspired by one of Leigh Thompson’s examples of counteroffers.

“I appreciate your openness to discuss terms that could potentially define our partnership. I too dedicated time to thinking through a set of conditions for our working relationship. I want to be transparent - my expectations and your initial proposal are significantly different. However, this is by no means a roadblock. Instead, I view it as an opportunity for us to delve deeper into our discussion and try to understand one another’s positions”.

Now it's your turn!

Think, practice and write down your response to an offer that may be significantly different than what you want to initially propose!

Want to learn more about effective negotiation strategies? Join our Negotiation Master Class June 21 from 7:00 to 8:30 pm.

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To your success!

Dr. Gill



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