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A Tug of War

You can't have it all. To negotiate successfully, you've got to master the art of give and take.

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This story appears in the September 2003 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When it comes to creative negotiation, deal-makers must master two tools: the concession and the condition. Simply put, a concession is what you give, and a condition is what you get. Grammatically speaking, a condition is the "if" clause; a concession is the "then." If you pay now, then I'll knock off 15 percent. If you finish by Tuesday, then you get a bonus.

Clever use of concessions and conditions is the trademark of an inventive deal-maker. Each concession is a minideal. You give in order to get. Even seemingly unilateral concessions create tacit obligations, jump-start talks and generate goodwill, all of which are benefits to you. Before you give, always consider what you'll get. And if you cut a really hard bargain, don't just go tit for tat. Use each "give" to get as much as possible. Besides, being stingy with your concessions will wear the other side down and discourage additional demands.

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