“All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.” —Bobby Fischer

Negotiation is often thought of as a game. In fact, business negotiations are not unlike chess, where every move you make sets up another move down the line.

At last week’s Entrepreneurship 101 lecture, Ted Maduri and Andrew Lord, partners at Davis LLP, provided the attendees with strategies and tactics for becoming more effective negotiators.

The first step to negotiating successfully is to figure out what your goals are. What do you want to achieve and how are you going to achieve it? The next step is to do your homework: it’s important to understand your opponents’ behaviour, including their strengths and weaknesses. Psychology plays a big role in anticipating the other side’s moves, especially if your opponents are unprepared.

Once you’re ready to make your move, follow Ted and Andrew’s list of tactics to get what you’re after. These are also known as the tools for getting to “Yes.”

  1. Create tension.
  2. Use time to your advantage.
  3. Be the aggressor.
  4. Chip away.

Watch the lecture video for the remaining five tips.

It’s also important to always keep the end game in mind. While both sides may have to give up some things in exchange for others, the end result should be a win-win situation.

The speakers’ final thoughts on negotiations: If you’re unable to secure an acceptable deal, you must be willing to press the big red button and walk away.

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Marielle Voksepp

Marielle works as part of the education team at MaRS. She helps entrepreneurs get access to business resources both online and in-person. See more…