How to Select Your Lead Negotiator

“I’m the boss, I’ll take the lead!” Could this be a big mistake? The person who holds the most senior position in the organization, group or team may not be the best person for the situation. The title ‘boss’ does not necessarily make them a good negotiator.

Choose with care the members of your negotiating team. As well as status, be wary of selecting those simply because they happen to be the most readily available. Having people at hand does not make them good negotiators.

Selection of the lead negotiator and negotiation team members is a key strategy process decision. For example, when negotiating a lengthy agreement there may be good reasons why you might prefer to have less senior negotiators handling the early rounds. Think forward to the possible tactical need to change negotiators or being able to appeal to a higher authority.

When selecting negotiation teams, consider how they will look from the Other Party’s point of view. Will they be seen as strong or weak? Either may be strategically useful.

Significant individual characteristics to consider

Given that the selection of your lead negotiator and negotiation team members may well be the most important factor when preparing for negotiation, here is a checklist of significant individual characteristics to consider:

  1. Personal reputation
  2. Prior negotiation experience generally, and of the issues under negotiation
  3. Status or position in hierarchy, if representing an organization
  4. Understanding of negotiation processes, negotiation concept training
  5. And their personal competence to:
  • set a high aspiration level – display confidence
  • resist persuasion – high self-esteem with low ego needs
  • be creative – inventive, lateral thinker, flexible
  • be self-aware, mindful, manage emotion/s
  • display patience – diplomatic with high frustration tolerance
  • handle failure – persistence, staying power
  • be attentive – proven listening skills
  • communicate – clearly and effectively present a case
  • interact/manage team dynamics, team alignment
  • build/maintain relationships
  • analyze and solve problems, make decisions
  • stay process aware – ability to concentrate
  • evidence ethical standards

Take a look at a write-up reviewing the EU and UK Brexit negotiators at:

In your view how do they measure up with our checklist? A lot of content (facts) reviewed and not much behavioural process!

Interestingly, way back 300 years ago Eighteenth Century Manuals of Diplomacy outlined a lot of process:

‘The complete negotiator should have a quick mind, but unlimited patience, know how to dissemble without being a liar, inspire trust without trusting others, be modest but assertive, charm others without succumbing to their charm.’

To discuss this article in more depth or to explore developing your effective negotiation skills further please contact us on +612 9299 9688.

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ENS International (ENSI) provides negotiation consulting and training services helping people and organizations think and act differently to achieve more. 

Negotiators gain the edge using proven ENSI influencing processes incorporating commercial psychology with a deep understanding of human behaviour. ENSI delivers through Consulting Services and In-House or Open Course training. 

With over 60 Practitioners working within 75 countries we have a depth of experience across a diverse range of sectors.

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