Use “IF” To Negotiate Successfully

When you negotiate, do you use ‘if’ to make your offerings conditional? During negotiations, the word ‘if’ is used as a conditional phrase that serves as a prelude for that which follows. It allows you to make an offer and not be committed to delivering the covenants of the offer, if the other negotiator doesn’t meet the condition(s) set forth by your ‘if’ inquiry. If you wish to negotiate successfully, you have to preface some offers and most counteroffers with the word, ‘if’.

The following are seven ways you can use ‘if’ to negotiate more successfully.

  1. You should use ‘if’ when you wish to extend a conditional offer to the other negotiator (e.g. If I add this to the deal, will that be enough to meet your needs?).  If the other negotiator says no, you’re not obligated to meet his needs with the offer extended to him.
  2. ‘If’ can also be used as a transitional strategy (e.g. You bring up a good point and if we can agree on ‘point B’, then we can address ‘point A’.)
  3. You can use ‘if’ as a ‘block and bridge’ strategy (e.g. If ‘point A’ is true (block), then it reasons that ‘point B’ has validity (bridge)). In this case, you would then begin to discuss ‘point B’, which should be more advantageous to your position.
  4. Use ‘if’ as a harbinger of things to come. Depending on the point you wish to stress and the position you’ve adopted, ‘if’ can be used as a subliminal precursor (e.g. If we adopt your position, do you really think it’s going to be beneficial?).
  5. ‘If’ can be used as an image enhancer or image detractor (e.g. If we consummate the proposed deal, you’ll save a few hundred thousand dollars and become a hero in your organization.)
  6. Use ‘if’ with ‘but’. ‘But’ is a delimiter that negates what comes before it. (e.g. Your point is good, but if we adopt the second point, the outcome will be more favorable.)
  7. “If’s” can be used in a ‘nested’ manner, when you wish to connect several points together, while not committing to the outcome unless the other negotiator agrees to all of the conditions (e.g. If we adopt ‘point A’ and if we adopt ‘point B’ or ‘point C’, I think we can conclude this deal successfully.)

To use ‘if’ successfully, do so with precision and incisiveness. Remember, ‘if’ can be used to ‘heat’ up, or ‘cool’ down a negotiation. Be perceptive to the psychological ‘temperature’ of the negotiation and adjust your mental thermostat and that of the other negotiator appropriately. Do so based on the direction you’d like your ‘if’ query to take you … and everything will be right with the world.

 The Negotiation Tips Are …

  • Before using ‘if’, consider the motivational source of the other negotiator. Then, apply your ‘if’ proposition from the perspective that it moves him in the direction he perceives to be the most beneficial.
  • Regardless of how you use ‘if’ in your negotiations, don’t use it to the point that it confuses the goal you seek. Remember, ‘If’ is another negotiation tool; like any tool, it should used when and where appropriate.
  • Remember to also use the word ‘if’ when you want to transition from a point you don’t wish to address to one that’s more advantageous to your position.
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