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Rule Number 1 If you do not ask – You will not get!

This is our “Rule Number 1 for Negotiation”. Although it may sound like a statement of ‘the blindingly obvious’, we are still struck by the number of people who fail to ask for what they want in a negotiation. Have you ever wondered just how much money you may have left on the negotiating table because ‘you did not ask for more’? Perhaps you do not want to know, but importantly you should not want to leave any more! If so, read on...

This rule covers two broad types of situation:


This is the person who ‘assumes’ the other party has understood their request without being explicit about it. Unfortunately, their original assumption is flawed and the opportunity is lost. Having failed to ask for closure, they are then surprised and disappointed when the deal is not closed. Examples of this are the seller who fails to ‘ask for the order’ after making a perfectly good pitch – they have all but completed the sale, but because they did not take the final all important step, the moment and the sale is lost. Similarly, the buyer who uses his full range of persuasion styles and has the supplier teed up for a knock down price, but then fails to ask for it – and so, unsurprisingly, the supplier does not offer it.


Never assume that the other party has understood your request if you have not explicitly asked for it. You may be off in your assumptions!

  • How could you achieve your aspirations if you do not ask? You may be pleasantly surprised!
  • Be brave – success belongs to those who are prepared to ask for it!
  • Were you clear on the purpose of the meeting and negotiation at the outset? If so, you should have prepared for the critical moment when you make that step. If closure is the desired outcome, you need to ask for it or you will not get....
  • Lay the ground out for closure by asking closed questions such as “Do you have any concerns about what I have said?” and “Does this makes sense so far?”.
  • Then go for it by stating “Good, in that case the next step is ...”.


This is best described as the unassertive person who lacks the conviction to ask for one of his/her demands because they do not believe that the other party will agree to it, or the person who dare not ask for more. For example, this could be the seller who does not state the full price, but instead offers a discounted price because the buyer has successfully conditioned them that they will not be able to afford the full price. In a similar way, this is the buyer who does not ask for a bigger discount than they believe they have a chance of getting.


Do your homework (preparation, planning and rehearsal). It helps enormously with self-belief in difficult situations.

It also generally pays to overstate your demands. Why?

  • You might just get it!
  • It raises the perceived value of your offering.
  • It gives you some negotiating room. If you are selling, you can always come down, but you can never go up in price. This situation helps to break a deadlock – if you open on your bottom line, you have no room for manoeuvre.
  • You should always ask for your maximum plausible position. The less you know about the other party, the higher your initial position should be. If you ask for more than you maximum plausible position, always imply some flexibility to move. When you move your initial position, the other party feels that they have a win.

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