Fortunately, most client negotiations don’t follow the hard-nosed, down-to-brass-tacks tumble that is expected when you are buying a car or a bunch of radishes from a hard-core farmers market lady. If all is well and the client knows why experts can’t be treated like they grow on trees, the actual negotiations we usually face use a lighter set of rules, close to the ones used for beach ball.

If we assume that our initial offer is [the ball] then:

  • Don’t let [the ball] hit the water – never answer any counter- request with a simple “yes” or “no”. They ask for something -> you ask for something of similar value in return.
  • No player can hit [the ball] twice in succession – once you say a counter-offer, you stick by it. If you need to explain your position, do that before asking for it.
  • Don’t cause [the ball] to come to rest until the end – the first one who says flat-out “no way” is stopping the flow and comes off as unreasonable or at least uncooperative. If you set your initial offer in a way that allows a lot of wiggle room, this rarely has to be you.

As long as you stick by the principle of “giving away nothing for nothing” and have a list of pre-prepared minor and major favors to ask and offer you will be able to calm their fears, counter their suggestions, and generally be able to come out the negotiations happy and calm.


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