Uwe Weinreich
Strategy & Innovation
Uwe Weinreich
Strategy & Innovation

How to Prepare for a Negotiation with Difficult Partners when the Stakes are High


Successful negotiations create win-win situations also with difficult partners.


Negotiations can be challenging

How to prepare for a negotiation with difficult opponents where the stakes are high? Negotiating with challenging opponents can be a stressful and intimidating situation, especially when there is a lot at stake. However, with the right strategies and effective negotiation techniques, you can increase your chances of success and achieve favorable outcomes. This article is specifically tailored for top and middle managers who often find themselves leading difficult negotiations and want to learn how a perfect preparation helps overcome fears in high-stakes situations.

The likelihood that a negotiation will end successfully for you is not shaped when the meeting begins, but with excellent preparation.



Preparing for negotiating with difficult partners

It's important to have a clear plan and strategy in place. Here are some elements that can help you navigate.

A special form are procurement auctions (reverse auctions). They are discussed in more detail on the page behind the link.



Thorough preparation makes an efficient negotiation strategy possible

1. Understand your Goals and Priorities

Take some time to identify your goals and priorities. What are the key outcomes you aim to achieve? Understanding your own objectives will help you stay focused and make informed decisions during the negotiation process. The maximum and minimum target (walkaway position) must be agreed upon and fixed in written form.


2. Build a team

Teams master negotiations much better than single people, but only when well-informed and trained. Targets, roles, responsibilities, and the negotiation process should not only be clear to everyone, but also trained in dry runs or so-called war games.


3. Research and gather information

Do your homework and gather as much information as possible about the other party. Learn about their interests, needs, and possible alternatives. This knowledge will give you an advantage in finding creative solutions that meet both parties' interests. It is also crucial to know who you will meet and what kind of negotiation strategy they might follow.


4. Train the right skills

Can the result of the process make a difference of tens of thousands or even millions of dollars? If so, it's worth practicing diligently and doing various dry runs. Like in sports, the person at the table who performs best in this game is likely to win.


5. Prepare a list of demands

Negotiation is not about selling, not about benefit arguments, but about placing demands and getting as many through as possible. A long list of demands will help you. There will be some that you can easily give up in order to get something valuable for you in return, or at least to fend off demands from the other side.


6. Stay in driver's seat

People acting passively won't achieve as much as they potentially could. The active part of a negotiation leads not only the dialogue, but the entire process, starting with the invitation, setting the agenda and choosing the location.


7. Practice, practice, practice

It's worth it. Practice negotiation skills as often as you can. Get feedback, train the team and improve continuously. It will pay off in money and peace of mind when facing the next challenging negotiation. This will have a positive impact on your emotions. You will learn to control them, and this makes you more successful in the end.


Download the free Negotiation Checklist!



Acquire effective negotiation techniques for challenging situations

In addition to the overall strategies, there are specific negotiation techniques that can be particularly effective when dealing with difficult partners in high-stakes situations. Everybody can learn them, even in a short time. Three important techniques are:


1. Light social conversation

Don't start out confrontational. An atmosphere of trust and understanding creates a common ground that enables a positive process.


2. The Power of Silence

Silence can be a powerful tool. When faced with a difficult partner, resist the urge to fill every moment with words. Allow moments of silence to create a sense of discomfort and encourage the other party to share more information or make concessions.


3. Anchoring

Mentioning a high number - even if it is not related to the topic - creates a numerical anchor in partners' minds that can help argue  price levels.


This is just a small selection. There is so much more you can learn with each case.



Become ready to negotiate in no time!

Yes, it would be nice to have a few weeks or even months to learn everything that's needed. If that's not possible, coaching you or your entire team can help you be prepared exactly when you need it.


Select the platform of your choice to book a negotiation coaching:


Ideal for selective, short-term negotiation coaching.



Ideal for continuous coaching or mentoring processes, and for personal development.



For a fast coaching via phone.