One of the keys to a successful negotiation is to be aware of what you want to achieve and how far you are willing to go. The reason you negotiate is to achieve a better result. The initial standard against which any proposal can be measured can be established by asking yourself questions such as “what is the result I want to achieve?”, “What is the alternative to a negotiated agreement?”. This is the standard against which any proposal for an agreement can be measured.

Another key to successful negotiation is knowing, as far as possible, what the other party needs and is pursuing. So knowledge about the bottom lines of your negotiating partner.

Ten essential steps for effective negotiation

1. Decide on your starting position and bottom line, the lowest point at which you are willing to accept a deal.

2. Consider the possible goals and emotional motivation of the other party.

3. Plan a series of proposals and possible counter-proposals. Start with the highest possible offer; this gives you room to negotiate.

4. Prepare for the meeting by setting your own goals; why are you negotiating? What do you expect to achieve, and what is important to you? What do you think you can offer to achieve this goal?

5. Be prepared with information, facts, comparable prices, costs, etc. Avoid entering into any negotiation and ignorance as well as aggressive behavior.

6. If the other party makes the first proposal, this may allow you to calibrate your response and make the parameters of the negotiation work in your favor. Some experts suggest that making the first offer is best and that this tactic can cause the other party to open with a counteroffer that may be more favorable than you expected.

7. Begin by discussing a mutually agreed point of the negotiation, something that both sides can easily say “yes” to.

8. When making a deal or a proposal, it is best to present it as “I will do this and such for you if you do that for me.” This creates a position of trust and authority.

9. Make sure your arguments and proposals are step-by-step and strategic. Avoid reaching your bottom line, the lowest point where you are willing to bid.

10. Know when it is time to close or end a discussion. If a party is willing to enter into an agreement, and it is an acceptable offer, make sure that signing the agreement requires as little effort as possible for your counterparty. For example, prepare everything you need to sign the deal.

Pay attention! The goal you have in mind is not the same as your bottom line (that which you absolutely have to achieve). The ultimate goal of business negotiations is to produce two satisfied parties and to pave the way for future negotiations.

As with all business skills, negotiation is learning by doing. Knowing the above ten principles before a negotiation is essential for successfully securing your objectives and maintaining strategic relationships with employees, customers or clients, suppliers, or investors.