5Establish an Ambitious Goal

One of the most important elements of your initial analysis is to determine your goal for the negotiation. What do you want, what are you trying to get, and what are you striving to achieve in the negotiation? Goals are very important because research demonstrates that goals drive negotiation outcomes (Galinsky, Mussweiler, & Medvec, 2002), so it is critical to establish an ambitious goal.

I think people are often afraid to establish bold goals, because they worry that doing so will cause them to lose the deal, offend the other side, or damage their relationship with the other party. These concerns are unfounded, but these misconceptions cause people to worry about establishing ambitious goals. The reality is that an aggressive goal will not cause you to lose the deal; you do not walk away from the deal if you are not achieving your goal—you only walk away if you have not secured your reservation point.

In addition, people fear that an ambitious goal will offend the other side and cause them to walk away. I always remind my clients that a goal cannot offend anyone because a goal is never shared with the other party—it is in my own head. My goal affects my own mindset about what is possible, what I am shooting for, and what I want. Oftentimes, the biggest constraint in any negotiation is our own thinking and how what is in our own heads limits our sense of what is possible to achieve.

Clearly, my goal will shape my first offer (Galinsky & Mussweiler, ...

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