EWS Blog

Jul 07, 2018

Negotiation: The Basics

Before discussing the intricacies of negotiation through email It is best to discuss the basics of what negotiation is.

Most of our lives are spent negotiating for something. The most obvious negotiation take place for employment, salary increase or the benefit of a company. The less formal ones occur in our daily lives as we negotiate to buy a new home or products for that home, with our children as we manage their lives and with our relatives as we plan out holidays. Most successful marriages are the direct result od a series of successful negotiation with our spouse.

What is a successful negotiation? One in which you get everything you want? Not really. A successful negotiation is one in which both parties arrive at a sustainable agreement.  A successful agreement meets 2 tests: 1) both parties can fully honor the terms of the agreement 2) the agreement provides enough satisfaction to both parties that it remains in place or is self-sustaining.

Most negotiation books and models describe negotiation as a scale. On one side are your needs, wants and likes; the Party on the other side also has needs, wants and likes. A successful negotiation can only happen when there is an overlap of the two parties. Finding that overlap is what negotiation as all about. At the very least the basic needs of both parties must be satisfied, then the wants and finally the likes.    

A negotiation falls apart when at least one part recognizes or perceives that their needs can’t be fulfilled through further communication. Furthermore, a negotiated agreement falls apart when one party realizes they can’t live up to the terms of the agreement.  

Some of the most popular books on this topic discuss different strategies to arriving at a negotiated solution. In Getting to Yes1, Members of the Harvard Negotiation Project, Roger Fisher and William Ury focused on the psychology of negotiation in their method, "principled negotiation", finding acceptable solutions by determining which needs are fixed and which are flexible for negotiators. They discuss: Separate the people from the problem, focus on interests, not positions, insist on using objective criteria and finally Know your BATNA (Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement). This text is an advocate of the “win-win” situation. Reading this text is highly recommended.

On the other end of the spectrum Starting with No2 by James Camp offers a contrarian system for negotiating. The book describes win-win negotiations as a play to your emotions in which the toughest negotiators take advantage of your instinct and desire to make the deal. Jim Camp introduces a system of decision-based negotiation that teaches you how to understand and control these emotions. Hi system is based on the importance of the “No” answer to your questions during a negotiation. Reading this text is also high recommended.

So, there are many texts written on the subject of negotiations which is telling in that there are many different styles. Each text has contributed to the dictionary of terms and phrases used in negotiation methods and tactics. For more on the terms I recommend the link:

Most of the terms on the web page will be used as we discuss negotiation through emails. It should be noted that Email Whisperer was founded on the premise that better results could be achieved by allowing a third party, skilled in English communication, to craft emails that deliver the message at a particular format. In that sense Email Whisperer is a tool for negotiation that should not be overlooked.    


  • Fisher, Roger; Ury, William; Patton, Bruce (2011) [1981]. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In(3rd ed.). New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 9780143118756.   
  • James Camp: 1 edition (July 15, 2002). Starting with No. Crown Business; ISBN-10: 0609608002