Brainstorm your options
Negotiations do not always end in mutual settlement. A colleague may pull rank to acquire the big office; the nanny may quit; the company may not take your offer. So you need to face the thorny question of what you would do in the absence of agreement. In short, what are your alternative courses of action? Most people have tunnel vision when it comes to their alternative courses of action in a negotiation. They are so focused on their demands that they can’t see all the different paths through the forest. Identify your options using the four fundamental rules of brainstorming.1
- Suspend your initial judgment and just list all options that come to mind, even outlandish ones.
- Strive for quantity—often, a good idea emerges from several silly-sounding ones.
- Reserve judgment and evaluation until later.
- Mix, match, and combine different options.