Boss Lady

5 core concerns for better negotiation


Negotiation is a key skill to succeed in any business. Preparation for a negotiation is critical to getting a good result, but we don’t always have as much time to prepare as we would like.

Luckily, there are five things that are common to each and every negotiation (unless you are negotiating with a robot!).  Knowing these five things will allow you to make some quick decisions about your negotiation.

The Five Core Concerns

The five common things in every negotiation are the Five Core Concerns, originally set out by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro in Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as you Negotiate.  The core concerns are human wants that are important to almost everyone in virtually every negotiation. They are often unspoken but are no less real than our tangible interests.

In almost every negotiation or dispute, one or more of the core concerns is at play.  Failure to address these core concerns can lead from almost having a deal to the collapse of the negotiation.

The five core concerns are:

  1. Appreciation – Do you feel heard and understood and valued by that other person?  And do they feel heard and understood and valued by you?
  2. Autonomy – Do you feel the freedom to make decisions without somebody else imposing a decision on you? Do they feel they can make a decision without someone else imposing decisions on them?
  3. Affiliation – What is the emotional connection like between you and that other person? Do you feel close and connected or do you feel distant, alienated, treated like an adversary?  And in a negotiation, how do you shift the energy so it’s not me versus you, but it’s the two of us sitting side by side?
  4. Status – Who’s important? Who’s not? Who feels respected for their status? Who feels disrespected?
  5. Role – Do people have a fulfilling, meaningful role in the negotiation?  Instead of automatically playing the role of competitors – I win, you lose – create a new kind of role.


Five core concerns and negotiation planning

The five core concerns are universal.  So every time you walk in to a negotiation, even when it’s your first interaction with the person, you know five important pieces of information about them that you can use in the negotiation.

1. They want appreciation

What can you say to make them feel valued and understood?  Prepare by considering how things may appear from their perspective.  When you meet, you can appreciate their reasoning without agreeing with them.

I understand you think the price it too high, and I appreciate your belief is that our margin should be less than 50%.

2. They don’t want you to impinge upon their autonomy

How can you ensure they have some sense of choice?

I’d like to meet at 10.30am tomorrow.  Would that work for you?

3. They want to feel a sense of affiliation

Investigate possible connections between the two of you.  A little bit of LinkedIn research can help with this.

“I see you worked in Hong Kong for a while.  I was there for three years too.  How did you find it?”

4. They don’t want their status to be disrespected

How can you ensure they feel respected without discounting your own status?

“It’s a pleasure working with you.  With your expertise in design and mine in what functionality my family needs, I’m sure we’ll come up with some amazing plans.”

5. They want a meaningful role in the negotiation

How might you invite the other person into a more constructive kind of role.

“Let’s sit down and just try and problem solve these differences together.”

So, even when you don’t have much time to prepare, walk through these five concerns and you will walk in much more prepared and more powerful negotiator.

About Nicole Davidson

Nicole Davidson is an expert in negotiation and conflict resolution. She is a Senior Consultant at CMA Learning where she provides training in negotiation, influencing and conflict resolution skills. She also operates her own business, GrowingBeyond, providing negotiation advice and mediation services.

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