When expert chess players compete against each other, they don’t just improvise their moves on the chessboard. They come to the game prepared with an arsenal of gambits. These are strategic moves that involve some degree of risk but can give a player a major advantage if they’re deployed in the right way, at the right time.

Power negotiators also have gambits. They can be divided into three categories, which correspond to the three phases of negotiation: the beginning, middle and end. Beginning gambits are the opening moves you can use to secure a strong foothold at the start of a negotiation. Middle gambits then help you to move the negotiation in the direction you want it to go. Finally, ending gambits enable you to seal the deal in your favour. Below are some tips on how to use the all three types.

Tip 1: Ask for more than you expect from other negotiators to give yourself more latitude in your negotiations. Add dynamic techniques to your thinking style for achieving a better price in your business negotiation deals.

Tip 2: Negotiating gambits have a broad range of applications. Asking for a better deal than you expect to receive is crucial to negotiating a favourable outcome in a sales transaction – but the applications of the gambit go well beyond that. Besides using the gambit in negotiating any deal that involves money, such as a raise, you can also use it for other, nonmonetary aspects of a deal.

Tip 3: Essential body language in negotiations. Negotiating successfully is about more than just saying the right thing. Reading and controlling body language in a negotiation is critical if you want to get a good deal. You can always use body language to your advantage as you observe your counterpart.

Tip 4: Never say Yes to the first offer or counter-offer from the other side. It automatically triggers two thoughts: I could have done better (and next time I will) and Something must be wrong. The big danger is when you have formed a mental picture of how the other person will respond to your proposal and he comes back much higher than you expected. Prepare for this possibility so it you won’t catch you off guard.

Top 5: Strategies for getting more out of every negotiation. Use the Bracketing Technique. If you can get the other side to reveal their position first – meaning they tell you which price they are offering – you can use a technique called bracketing to determine where you want to make your first counter offer. Bracketing means you make an offer that is equally far apart from the final price you want to pay as the other side’s initial offer is. Taper your concessions. Many people make the mistake of conceding the majority of what they have and then not having much left to give in subsequent concessions. This leaves the other party angry because they were expecting more concessions and so naturally, they believe that you’re holding out on them. The other major issue that many most have is that they make predictable concessions.

Tip 6: Always insist on a trade-off. Anytime the other side asks you for a concession in the negotiations, you should automatically ask for something in return.

Tip 7: The tactic of Higher Authority can work for either counterpart in a negotiation. Sometimes you cannot get a situation resolved by working with the counterpart assigned to you. Perhaps the counterpart has decided not to comply with your request, or she may not have the authority to fulfil your request. So you have to go to a Higher Authority to obtain a satisfactory outcome. On the other hand, lacking the final say in a situation can create a very powerful position for your counterpart, since it provides her with the opportunity to take your request to someone at a higher level in the organisation. We have frequently seen experienced negotiators work the best deal they can, then run off to a Higher Authority and come back with instructions for an even better deal.

Tip 8: If negotiation gets bogged down, be prepared to call in a third party. Parties in dispute often need the support of a third party in facilitating the conflict management process when they have become so caught up in their differences that they are no longer able to find constructive ways forward (Ropers, 1995). A third party is a person or group of people who assists individuals and groups to negotiate and successfully reach agreement. The third party is generally referred to as the facilitator or mediator. Facilitator is a more general term, which can be applied to anybody who guides group processes (discussions, meetings, workshops). A mediator is specialized in conflict management processes, and mediator is therefore the preferred term used in this manual.

Tip 9: When an issue becomes a sticking point, set it aside for later. There’s no shame in calling in an arbitrator or walking away from a stalled-out negotiation. If it has to happen, it has to happen. But before you take one of these more drastic measures, there are a couple of less dramatic tactics you should try out. the first is to shake things up. There are many ways to do this, depending on the situation. Another option is to use the set-aside gambit. The idea behind this gambit is that when you reach an impasse in a negotiation, it’s usually about just one or a few of the many issues you’re trying to work out with the other side.

Tip 10: At the end of a negation, it’s easy to get a small concession from the other side. In the end phase of negotiation, the set-aside gambit takes advantage of these psychological foibles – using them to pressure the other side into making a concession they might not otherwise make.

Tip 11: If the other side of a negotiation gets a little too greedy, you can respond by withdrawing an offer. It’s a risky but powerful way to bring the end phase of a negotiation to a close when the other side is being stubborn and trying to push their luck too far.

Tip 12: When you’ve done a good job of negotiating, sugar-coat the deal to make it an easier pill for the other side to swallow. It’s called positioning for easy acceptance. To do this, you just throw in a nice little extra freebie – no strings attached. The freebie can be pretty small – the idea is simply to be the last person to give a concession. That way, the other party can agree to the deal while feeling like they won the final victory.

Negotiation may conjure up images of trade delegations, hostage situations and large corporate mergers. However, the truth is that negotiation is also all around us, it is a fundamental part of life and business. Knowing the basics will stand you in good stead, be it deciding your holiday plans or negotiating your salary. If you stick to these twelve tips you will find that both you and the other side will walk away feeling like you’ve got a fair deal.