If you try to find out the definition of the good negotiator, you will certainly find attributes like assertive, challenging everything, good listener, know his bargaining style, etc.

All this is true but as Jim Collins wrote in one of his books, “Good is the Enemy of Great”. Great negotiators are creative thinkers and they use creativity in various steps of the negotiation process. Therefore we want to show you HOW TO BECOME GREAT NEGOTIATOR by using only 4 creative methods.

SETTING HIGH EXPECTATIONS: in each negotiation you need to set your opening position (the best possible result you could achieve) and walk away position (the last acceptable result you are willing to discuss). This will limit the scope of your discussions. But if you would learn setting higher expectations than usual, you would certainly achieve better results. That is why creative negotiators use method called DAY DREAMING to define the best starting position they can imagine. You can do the same in a few steps:

Daydreaming is a process of spontaneously imagining things.

You need to imagine what could be the best agreement you could achieve.

Think in pictures, visualize in your mind and describe it with words or sounds.

Then imagine what can be even better than the best agreement you just described.

Repeat this process several times until you define truly amazing opening position!

PLANNING PREPARATION: once you set the scope of negotiation, you need to collect information about your opponent, list the base assumptions and prepare your tactics. This is the opportunity to use another creative method called WHAT IF? The objective is to challenge the assumptions you have about your partner and his intentions and prepare for different answers. The golden rule is to “never trust your assumptions and verify each of them!”


The base assumption – You think your opponent will try to negotiate lower price.

Changed assumption – What if the real objective was to increase the quality?

Result – You prepare various proposals how to increase quality of your product or service.

ICEBERG OF TOTAL VALUE: when negotiating, you want to understand the intention of your opponent. Often the real reasons behind bargaining are not even explained or presented during the meeting. That is why we speak about the iceberg of the total value. Therefore you need to use method called CREATIVE QUESTIONING in order to help your opponent to reframe the problem and reveal what is truly important for him. *Questions asked in unusual way and in unusual moment can be considered as creative questions. The objective is to get unusual answers.

There are simple rules how to develop creative questioning:

Listen all questions that people ask around you and note them down

Analyze the common pattern of answering to these questions

Ask people who you admire what are their favorite questions to ask

Make a list of so-called “Dumb questions” that surprise others

Practice asking 5W questions, open questions or questions about questions

Create your own repertoire of creative questions to ask in negotiation and update and it regularly

EXPANDING THE PIE: this is one of the negotiation tactic used when you are looking for win-win situation. The objective is to expand the negotiated subject or scope of cooperation into bigger or more important scale. The method called CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING is the right one to use because it requires collaborative approach. You won’t bargain item by item anymore, but rather discuss and analyze with your opponent (who becomes now your partner) how to create more value for both parties. This process consists of several steps and involves divergent and convergent thinking at each stage:

6 Steps Creative Problem Solving (CPS)

Opportunity finding

Fact gathering

Problem defining

Idea generating

Solution finding

Action planning

These 4 methods might not be new to you, but the idea of using them in the process of negotiation is original. Of course, mastering these methods require a bit of preparation and practice. But once you find your way of using them, you will develop unique negotiation style resulting into win-win agreements, creative business results and long-lasting relationships.