The Path to Negotiating Success Lies in the Questions

If there is one thing that separates successful negotiators from all the rest it is the fact that great negotiators really know how to ask questions and they always seem to know what questions they are going to be asked. It is not the quantity of the questions that negotiators ask but also the quality of the questions that are asked. An important part of the quality factor is how you ask it; in my seminars we spend a tremendous amount of effort on the art and science of asking questions. Just as much emphasis should be given to developing questions that you are going to ask but also to making a list of questions that you are going to be asked.

When you are making a plan for a negotiation one of the most critical areas is to develop a list of questions that you will be asked. During a negotiation there is often great pressure placed on you to provide quick and sensible answers to hard questions. Even though these pressures are often self-imposed they exist none the less. The way to deal with this is to develop that list of questions before the negotiation begins, and naturally, think about your responses to those questions and the result will be better answers that support your position.

The following is a list of suggestions when it comes to dealing with questions from your adversary:


  1. Take time to think before you answer a negotiation is not a race to answer questions as fast as possible.
  2. Remember that you do not have to answer every question, and know how to address this.
  3. Make sure that you clearly understand each and every question and do not answer until that moment.
  4. Make sure you have your adversary has to work hard for each and every answer.
  5. If you adversary interrupts you let them keep talking, you have nothing to gain but knowledge.
  6. Only answer the question, do not elaborate, why give you adversary more information than they asked for.
  7. Whenever you feel it is to your advantage answer with one word answers they are yes, no and maybe.
  8. If you do not know that answer or do not recall then postpone the answer.
  9. When you answer questions you must have a clear understanding on knowing what to say and what not to say.