Negotiation is traditionally approached as a set of techniques, tactics, and frameworks. Most courses teach negotiation as a skill. And while there is an element of skill involved, great negotiation is built on something much deeper than a set of skills.

Your state of being, who you are when you come into the room, is crucial to a successful negotiation. Before refining tactics and techniques, it’s important to first study the deeper qualities of successful negotiators and what they have in common.

The Best Negotiators

Focusing on state of being before a set of skills is a different way of looking at negotiating. It is this hard work that makes the real difference in negotiating success.

There are three key mindsets that characterize the best negotiators:

  1. Clarity
  2. Detachment
  3. Equilibrium


1. Clarity

Great negotiators have clarity.

Clarity is a sense of being that requires a level of self-knowledge, a connection to inner truth, and a willingness to delve deep. Many are not willing to make the effort to access these. Instead, most go into negotiations without doing the hard work.

Make the effort and do the hard work by first understanding how to obtain total clarity. Before a negotiation, become crystal clear on the following objectives:

  • The outcome(s) you are seeking
  • What your true bottom line is
  • The set of circumstances that will make or break a deal

Ask yourself what outcomes you’re seeking, what your true bottom line is, and your deal breakers. The answers to these questions will provide the clarity needed.

2. Detachment

When entering into a negotiation, your preference should be that you get the deal done. Why else would you be in that negotiation? However, in the end, your state of being needs to be detached from the outcome.

If you are able to achieve the three objectives determined in clarity, do the deal. If not, don’t. It’s that simple. You must trust that another, better deal will come along or that this one was simply not meant to be. Great negotiators are always willing to walk away—not from a place of anger or ego but from a place of detachment.

3. Equilibrium

Finally, negotiators must maintain equilibrium in their state of being during the entire negotiation to be successful.

Maintaining equilibrium means staying centered, calm, and clear. Not getting thrown off by the tactics, techniques, emotions of the other side, or your own emotions is crucial.

Yes, external preparation is needed for negotiation, but this internal work is significant and often overlooked. Doing the hard work to master a state of being and mindset of clarity, detachment, and equilibrium is not a small undertaking. And, although most would acknowledge the value, few people achieve it in their negotiations because they are not willing to do what it takes.