“Negotiation Leadership Skills Advice – This Is How To Ask More Powerful Questions” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“In negotiations, good questions lead to enlightenment, while not-so-good ones may lead to the dank bowels of negotiation darkness.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert  

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“Negotiation Leadership Skills Advice

This Is How To Ask More Powerful Questions”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

Negotiation skills are essential for everyone in a leadership position. And one key aspect of effective negotiation is the ability to ask good questions. The right questions help those in leadership gain valuable insights, identify common ground, and reach mutually beneficial agreements with those they interact.

This article explores how leaders can increase their negotiation skills by asking better questions. It also offers insights into how and when to use good questions in negotiations and those that leaders should use cautiously.

Good Questions:

1. “What are your goals and objectives for this negotiation?” This question helps leadership members understand the other party’s motivations and what they hope to achieve from the negotiation. It sets a collaborative tone for discussions.

2. “Can you tell me more about your concerns?” This question shows that the leader is interested in the other party’s perspective. By asking this question, leaders can dig deeper into the other party’s issues and better understand the root causes of their concerns.

3. “What are some of your possible solutions to this problem?” Brainstorming and collaboration are encouraged with this question. Leaders can find common ground and reach a mutually beneficial agreement by asking for the other party’s input on possible solutions.

4. “How can we work together to achieve our shared goals?” Subliminally, this question suggests that both parties have a common objective and encourages collaboration. By working together, both parties can achieve their desired outcomes.

5. “What are your priorities in this negotiation?” Leaders probe common ground via this question. By understanding the other party’s priorities, leaders can find ways to meet their needs while achieving their goals.

6. “What information do you need from me to move forward?” This question indicates the leader is willing to provide information to progress the negotiation. It also helps leaders understand what insights the other party needs to make an informed decision.

7. “Can you give me an example of this issue’s impact on you?” This question helps leaders understand the other party’s perspective and how the issue affects that person. It can also help leaders identify possible solutions.

8. “What are the potential consequences if we do not agree?” By posing this question, both parties understand the negotiation’s stakes. It also helps focus the discussion on finding a solution.

9. “What obstacles are preventing us from reaching an agreement?” This type of question fosters both teamwork and problem-solving. By identifying the obstacles, leaders can work to find ways to overcome them.

10. “How do you think we can move forward from here?” This question shows a willingness to find a solution and overcome disagreements. It inspires the other party to think about the next steps and helps create a plan for moving forward.

Questions Leaders Should Use With Caution:

1. “Can you just give me your bottom line?” The tone of this question may foretell negativity in the negotiation. It can also convey a lack of concern for the other party’s position. And it is unlikely to elicit an adequate response.

2. “Why are you being so difficult?” You most likely imagined the tone a leader used to pose this question. It is accusatory and can put the other party on the defensive. And it may set a defensive tone for the negotiation.

3. “What is the least you are willing to accept?” This question focuses solely on the other party’s bottom line, excluding other aspects of the negotiation. And concentrating on the ‘least’ can discourage collaborative discussion.

4. “Why do you think that is a good idea?” This question becomes bad when stated dismissively of the other party’s ideas. If used, say it in a pleasant tone.

5. “Do you expect me to agree to that?” Depending on the tone used to forward this question, the opposition may perceive it as being hostile. If that is not the intent, use a soft demeanor when delivering it.

6. “What is in it for me?” This question is self-centered. If a leader poses it, they should do so strategically – when the opposition feels close to having their desired request granted.

7. “Can you just give me a better deal?” Depending on how a leader asks the question, it may sound like they are pleading or begging, which could weaken their negotiation position. Worse, if it sounds demanding, it could be perceived as demeaning.

8. “Why should I care about your concerns?” This question sounds harsh – it is dismissive of the other party. Unless the leader is playing hardball, avoid this usage.

9. “Why can you not just agree to my terms?” If stated inaptly, this question may sound aggressive and can put the other entity on the defensive. It is unlikely to encourage the other party to work together to find a solution.

10. “Why are you wasting my time?” It is difficult to imagine this as a positive question – and the opposition most likely will not perceive it as positive either. It is dismissive and rude. It discourages collaboration toward finding a viable solution.

As you can see, the last ten questions can become perceived as antagonistic, dismissive, and self-centered. They focus solely on the leader’s needs and fail to acknowledge their counterpart’s perspective.

On the other hand, the good questions tend to be more collaborative, open-ended and focused on finding mutually beneficial agreements. They show a willingness to listen and work together towards a solution.


Asking good questions is essential for people in leadership to improve their negotiation skills. Accordingly, by asking open-ended and collaborative questions, leaders can gain valuable insights, find common ground, and reach mutually beneficial agreements. And everything will be right with the world. Top of Form

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

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After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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