“Win More Negotiations Easily – How To Use Problem-Solving Techniques” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“When problem-solving in negotiation, pursue inconceivable options to reach imaginable solutions.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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Negotiations are about problem-solving. How well you do that determines how successfully you reach satisfactory outcomes for all involved. Thus, problem-solving should take center stage in a negotiator’s toolbox of most employed tactics.

Would you like to know how to become a better problem-solver – this skill will serve you in business and your personal life. If yes, continue, and you will discover how to unleash your problem-solving superpowers.

Problem Identification Techniques

1. Identifying Problems

It may sound trite, but problem-solving begins with defining the problem. Good negotiators accomplish that by not just looking at a challenging situation from a cursory perspective; they peel back the layers of cover that conceal the source by understanding the other party’s needs, priorities, and interests.

You may think that is obvious, but to what degree do you toil to confront issues during your negotiation to reveal such insights? Exceptional negotiators do. To increase your odds of uncovering negotiation problems, observe and examine their cause from many perspectives. The one you omit may be its identifying source.

2. Brainstorming

Brainstorming can produce a variety of widespread ideas that lead to solutions. You can use brainstorming in negotiations to unseal imaginative resolutions you might not have considered. Asking the other negotiator for their solutions can lend ideas you can build on.

3. Reverse Brainstorming

There are two facets to reverse brainstorming that negotiators can use for problem-solving. The first is a method where a negotiator begins at the imaginary end of a negotiation. From there, they work backward, identifying problems and generating multiple ideas to determine potential solutions that allow them to return to a successful endpoint.

The second form is creating scenarios that would worsen or introduce more problems. That may sound counterproductive, but it can help negotiators identify the root causes of issues and inspire more imaginative solutions. When negotiators discern how to make problems worse, they can reveal concealed biases, assumptions, and hidden thoughts that may prevent them from finding a solution.

4. Decision Matrix

Decision matrixes are tools negotiators can use to help compare and evaluate multiple options based on specific criteria. Thus, decision matrices can serve negotiators by objectively assessing the possible validity of solutions, making it easier to choose the best course of action while taking the emotional aspect out of the equation.

To create a decision matrix, have well-defined criteria; be specific about what you measure: garbage in, garbage out. Negotiators can enhance this tool by placing higher or lower weights on aspects of its components.


1. Problem-Solving Incubation

After amassing multiple solutions to problems, negotiators can rest them. That is known as incubation, a problem-solving procedure where negotiators set the problem aside and let their subconscious thoughts address it.

By relaxing their mind and not focusing on the challenge that warrants a solution, a negotiator’s subliminal thoughts will emerge to add additional awareness. Those insights may reshape one’s perspective and lead to more fruitful possibilities. 

2. Analyze and Prioritize Solutions

Once negotiators feel they have sufficiently engaged in the incubation stage, they can analyze the value of their possible solutions and prioritize their implementation order. This activity helps to ensure a better thought-out process that may deliver better solutions.

3. Negotiation Simulation

Negotiation simulation is an excellent way to identify thoughts that may have previously been dormant. To benefit from this endeavor, negotiators should engage in mock negotiations with a sense of reality – experiencing the emotions and challenges as they might during live sessions. Doing this will cause possible problems that have not previously emerged to become elevated. From that problem-solving exercise, negotiators can craft new solutions.

4. Develop Contingency Plans

All good plans appear so until implemented. That becomes their real test of vulnerability and validity.

That is why negotiators should create contingency plans to answer their ‘what if’ – what if something occurs that we had not thought about or planned for.

Never overlook the value of a contingency plan. It can become the trap door that allows you to escape a bad situation that appears unsolvable.

Implementation of Problem-Solving Techniques During Negotiation

A negotiator must always be adaptive in negotiations and quick to recognize, adapt, and offer solutions to challenging situations. To become more proficient at doing so:

1. Identify when you first observed the appearance of a problem. Assess the undercurrents that may have been there throughout the talks. You are searching for the root cause of the problem.

2. Ask the other negotiator for their input to address issues. In their reply, insights into their thinking will reveal how they perceive a problem and how they might manage it. You can use their thoughts to enhance your problem-solving abilities by incorporating what they say in your solution offering.

3. Never obsess over problems in live negotiations. If need be, exit the environment and clear your mind. In a refreshed mental state, you will become more apt at problem-solving.


Problem-solving is a must-have skill to negotiate effectively. An unaddressed problem, or one not correctly attended to, can stall your efforts during negotiations. Thus, to win more negotiations, you must become a better problem-solver.

To do that, use my suggestions to increase your problem-solving odds. In so doing, you will discover how easy it becomes to solve more problems. And everything will be right with the world.

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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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