Perils of Failing to Properly Prepare for Negotiation Part III

Preparation is power in a negotiation. It can tip the scales to give you more leverage, more influence, and more confidence, with corresponding better outcomes. It’s the most important and most overlooked element of negotiating. That’s why this series is dedicated to helping you up-level your preparation skills – so you can get more of what you want and deserve in your negotiations.

In Part I we explored the perils of failing to properly prepare. In Part II we uncovered the first of the magical trilogy of models to boost your negotiating effectiveness: my signature No F.E.A.R. Negotiating model. This week, allow me to introduce you to the 2nd simple preparation model you can add to your arsenal to increase your persuasiveness: 5 W’s to Effective Negotiating.

5 W’s to Effective Negotiating

We’re taught to implement the 5 W’s in investigative endeavours, yet most people don’t invoke those 5 little words – who, what, where, when & why – in their negotiations. That’s a mistake. Those who consider the 5 W’s with intention set themselves apart and get better results. In fact, I consider the 5 W’s your 5 secret weapons in negotiation. That’s why I advocate adopting my 5W model as an essential element of your negotiation preparation process.

Let’s dig in!


There are several key ‘who’ questions I invite you to consider in advance of any negotiation.

Who are you? If your negotiation is professional, what’s your position, title and authority? Is there a hierarchy at play and if so, how will that impact on the negotiation?  If your negotiation is personal, are you coming into the negotiation as a mom, daughter, sister, wife, friend or neutral? Sometimes showing up in a particular mode can sabotage our ability to get best outcomes. Consider what role you want to negotiate from to maximize your effectiveness. Be deliberate in making this decision. 

Who will the other party see you as? Will they see as someone to take seriously or someone to fluff off? If someone is likely to underestimate you, use that to your advantage.

Who do you want to show up as? Remember this is a choice. Will you show up with compassion, integrity, presence, vulnerability, and generosity? Or does this exchange require you to show up confident, controlled and compelling? Making this decision consciously, in your personal and professional life can profoundly improve your relationships and interactions.

Who are you negotiating with? Who is the other party likely to show up as? Do you anticipate they’ll show up with bravado or play the victim card? Prepare for all possible versions.

Who should you be negotiating with? Does the person have the requisite authority to make the deal? Who would be beneficial to have at the table? Who do you want to keep away from the table?

Who will be impacted? Consider the ripple effects of your negotiations (both short-term and long-term).


What you negotiate about is typically at the forefront of your mind, but your sense of the ‘what’ is likely shallow and doesn’t fully serve you. I invite you to go deeper.

In addition to the usual ‘what’ suspects:

  • What do I want         
  • What’s my priority
  • What can I offer
  • What should I offer
  • What’s my bottom line

let yourself consider some other ‘what’ elements, like:

  • what leverage can I bring to bear
  • what strategy should I adopt
  • what can I say or do to be more persuasive
  • what unresolved personal baggage or bias do I bring to the table

Be sure to consider these vis-à-vis the other party, including what their true motivation is on any given point. Bringing that level of insight can influence negotiated outcomes. 

During the negotiation, keep considering deeper-layered ‘what’ questions.

  • What are they saying (their words) vs what they’re really saying (their meaning)
  • What do their non-verbal cues tell me
  • What messages am I sending through my tone, body language, facial expressions
  • What other interpretations could be read into my words
  • What seems to be landing well vs causing resistance


Setting is important. Setting can ground us or unsettle us, envelop us or push us away, warm or cool us. Use it with intention as another tool in your negotiating toolkit.

You may not always be able to control where your negotiations take place. But if you start actively contemplating where, as a key factor to plan, you will increase your influence.


You’ve no doubt heard it said that timing is everything. Yet most people don’t factor timing in their negotiations. As kids we knew it intuitively and yet we forget to apply this same skill as adults, when the stakes are likely higher.

Part of your preparation ought to actively consider the most strategically advantageous timing for your negotiation. This includes time of year, month, day; circumstances; your mood (and the other party’s); etc.

Another aspect of timing in negotiations is how much time you allot for the negotiations. Some negotiations shouldn’t be rushed, and sometimes urgency is your friend. Be cautious if the other party is pressuring you with artificial time constraints. The trick is to be intentional.


And so we come to the last of our quintessential W’s.

Knowing yourself is one of the first steps to prepare for negotiation. A critical component of knowing yourself is knowing your why. Tap into your motivation. Attaching emotion to negotiations will boost your energy, commitment and resolution. To clarify, I’m not saying to be emotional. I’m saying to mine and draw on the emotional underpinning that really drives you. Let it inspire and propel you to be more persuasive and influential.

For example, a negotiation that seems to be about money is almost never just about the money. It’s about what that money represents to each party.

After considering your own why, turn your attention to the other party’s. Knowing yourself and your own motivation is only half the equation. It’s critical to also consider the motivation of the other side. What drives them? What are their big whys? Think of the other party as an iceberg. What you see and what they present is only the tip. Ninety percent lurks under the surface – those all-important hidden or unstated needs.

This 5W model will be a game-changer if adopted consistently as part of your negotiation preparation process. Most people don’t apply these factors with intention. When you do, you already set yourself apart from the pack and elevate your status as a successful negotiator.

Be sure to make the time to consider the who, what, where, when & why of your next negotiation if you want to get better outcomes, better buy-in, and better relationships.

If you want to explore this model in more depth, grab a copy of my FREE ebook, 5 Secret Weapons to Effective Negotiating

To uncover the final piece of our trilogy of powerful preparation models, stay tuned next week where we’ll explore the foundational A.R.E. F.I.T. model.



Negotiation, power, preparation

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