We truly believe that these 3 practices will help you assemble and mobilize a truly outstanding negotiation team and leverage the power of teamwork, when it comes to getting the best outcomes in your deals and crucial conversations. This is our recipe for the Secret Sauce that makes negotiation teams great.

#1 Be humble

To get the best out of our deals, the first thing to do is to be humble and recognize that on our own, we hit limitations in terms or multitasking, the amount of information we can process and remember, our individual skillset and simply our ability to perform at optimum. So, if you’re really after the best possible outcome, don’t limit the quality of your deal by your solo capability. Instead, build a team with complementary skills and tasks, which will immediately take your negotiations to the next level.

This level of humility requires that you have an attitude of being an eternal “learner”, “not a knower”, as Marshall Thurber would say. And even if you’re good, very good, or in fact a professional negotiator, this rule applies to you just as much. In fact, the more experienced you become, the more you’re likely to fall prey to the “the knower” mentality.  However, your ability to keep a humble mindset and remain a “learner”, determines your ability to fully collaborate with others and get the most value from teamwork, and the deal.

Look at elite sports professionals, like Steve Bradbury, the Australian Olympic winner in short-track speed skating, who’s clearly in a “solo” sport. He stresses the importance of teamwork and goal setting:

“Teamwork is crucial. Surround yourself with people who are experts in their chosen field. During my racing career, I had my coach, my teammates, my physio, my equipment manager and I had my parents. Without any of those people, I wouldn’t have won the gold medal.”

#2 Find Your Unreasonable Friend

Seems like an oxymoron, right?!

A friend is someone who’s caring, attentive, has your best interests at heart, can be a great sounding board and maybe even a source of support and advice when things get tough. But often, the main shortcoming of events the best meaning friends is that they listen to all our reasons and excuses, justifications and explanations of why we screw up, don’t hit our goals or things “don’t go our way”. They let us off the hook when it comes to taking personal responsibility for our results.

Enter “Unreasonable Friend”.

This is a special calibre of an individual, who offers you the best of both worlds – deep care and unwavering commitment to you and your best interests…


…holds you accountable for your results and commitments, offers a healthy reality check, a fresh perspective as well as frank feedback and advice; help you find order in times of chaos, priorities in a time of overwhelm, and simplicity when faced with complexity.

When you have an “Unreasonable Friend”, prepare to be challenged and supported. Prepare to learn, grow, stretch your comfort zone and hit those goals, which previously, let’s be honest, we’re really only a pipe dream. An unreasonable friend is tough-love. An unreasonable friend is your Coach.

When assembling your negotiation team, the first role to consider is that of your Negotiation Coach. Your Unreasonable Friend in this deal, and potentially others.

To scope out all the necessary negotiation team roles, responsibilities and how to handpick individuals best suited for each one, register for our upcoming Webinar. It’s FREE.

# 3 Embrace Diversity

In its very essence, negotiating is a practice of finding the richness in each other’s differences and using it to create mutual value. And this applies to your negation team itself, understanding that the strength of your negotiation team lies in its diversity – diversity of roles & responsibilities, skills & abilities, individual characteristics and perspectives.

In his recent interview with The Trusted Negotiator, Warwick Peel, who is the Chief Connection Officer at Future Directors Institute and CEO at Startup Boards, talked about the role of diversity in teams:

“Diversity brings different perspectives and a myriad of ways of solving problems. As the world becomes so much more complex, it is diversity in thinking that can help identify solutions.”

And that is what we often face in a negotiation – complexity, problems, conflicts. Warwick highlighted that the biggest obstacle to achieving diversity is that “there is an inner prejudice in most people… We tend to resonate with those similar to us, whereas the best results come from working with different minds, diversity of skillsets, gender, age and multicultural backgrounds.”

So how do we assess whether we are truly embracing diversity? Is it about having quotas with regards to gender, age, race, etc in your negotiation team?  Warwick’s advice, as an expert is creating diversity in teams and boards is “…to be very much focused on performance as the metric. Diversity is a very broad challenge to assess, however we need to focus on the results and measure impact.”

When it comes to diversity in negotiation teams, the immediate and most obvious observation is the lack of women at the negotiation table. Maybe this is the first diversity factor to consider when assembling your negation team? The authors of the book Her Place at the Table, Deborah M. Kolb, Judith Williams, and Carol Frohlinger definitely think so, and we certainly tend to agree.

If you want to know more about women in negotiations, join Victoria Plaksin, Managing Director of The Trusted Negotiator, at the seminar for the Small Business Victoria Festival: Women’s Unfair Advantage in Negotiation

Additional resources on this topic:

We are watching:


Tom Wujec TED

Build a Tower, Build a Team by designer Tom Wujec

Entertaining and counter-intuitive learnings about how to make sure that your team performs effectively. Tom’s clever and witty experiment teaches us that true teamwork is not a race for power.

We are reading:

The B Team

Diversity: bringing the business case to life

Diversity is an opportunity to create dynamic and successful teams of the future. There is a compelling and irrefutable business case for diversity, so in partnership with Virgin Unite The B Team have compiled a compendium on how diversity can drive innovation, creativity and success. (The B Team is a not-for-profit initiative formed by a global group of business leaders to catalyse a better way of doing business, for the wellbeing of people and the planet.)


Negotiating as a Team

Elizabeth A. Mannix is a professor of management and organizations at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. Her research and teaching focus on negotiation in teams, the performance of diverse groups, coalitions, power and alliances, and knowledge sharing in teams. In this article she poses the question: Do you know how to find strength in numbers?

The secret, according to Professor Mannix, is to agree on the substance of the negotiation, then identify, leverage, and smoothly coordinate each team member’s unique abilities.

Her Place at the Table

Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success

By Deborah M. Kolb, Judith Williams & Carol Frohlinger

Fantastic book about gender issues (and opportunities!) at the negotiation table. Tom Peters said of this book: “It will help individual women negotiate what they need to succeed as leaders and help their firms support them in their efforts. That way we all win!”

We are listening to:

Trust & Consequences

NPR Ted Radio hour – Trust and consequences

Our lives are fueled by trust: in our loved ones, our colleagues, our leaders. But how do we cultivate it, and restore if it’s lost? In this episode, TED speakers explore our relationship with trust and share some great insights into building trust within your team.

"Imagine a world where the men in business not only come home with more value in the deal, but with a new sense of trust and respect as a society?"

Fabian Courtaux, Trusted Negotiator