Negotiating contracts for a positive outcome


As Quantity Surveyors, we find ourselves embedded into a negotiation process all too often. It could be working with a client to get the best return on their construction investment, or indeed the more difficult negotiation process of settling a dispute over final payment.

The profession of Quantity Surveying continually experiences situations where careful and well thought out plans are absolutely essential to getting the right result.

Certainly a topical subject at the moment and I hope you find this useful.

How to plan for the right outcome in your negotiations

‘Successful negotiations happen, and are far more regular, if you have a coherent plan – every negotiator will know that.’

A plan is a list, in the correct order, of required activities set to a timeline.

Preparation for negotiation

Agree the boundaries: set time limits, confirm any rules both professional and personal. It’s important to know from the start what each party can or can’t do.

Start out with a discussion

Present each others’ case without restriction to limited outcomes. Any discussion will involve questioning all parties, listening to their response and clarifying you have understood. Don’t say too much. Always listen more at this stage than talk.

Clarification of goals

Listing each parties goals. This will avoid misunderstandings and give purpose to the process. You may even find common ground.

Try and have a Win-win outcome

In any negotiation all parties must feel they have gained, and for this to happen, alternative strategies and compromises need to be considered now. Original positions can create a stalemate. Positive alternatives will lead to greater benefits for everyone, and reduce the need for lawyers.


When seeking agreement, request that parties keep an open mind and stay solution focused in order to find a solution. Make the agreement clear so all know what is decided.

If your negotiations fail

If the discussions do not achieve a settlement, do not stay arguing as it wastes time and damages relationships. Simply arrange another meeting.

Document and implement the course of action

A bad mistake is not detailing the final agreement for both parties to sign off. This can cause further issues and in many cases each party will look to backtrack or try to grab a bigger share of the positive outcome. Detail all elements needing agreement and document before moving forward.

Clear and concise detail is always necessary to implement a course of action quickly and effectively. In a negotiation process, each of the points detailed play an important role. Negotiation is about considering all scenarios in relation to anticipated outcomes. This develops a strong understanding for all parties to seek the right answers.

Whatever issue is on the table, and no matter the magnitude or risk involved, referring to these guidance notes will benefit you – helping you both hone your negotiation skills and understand the power of reconciliation.

Good luck…………now for you to negotiate!


Need some help with your contract negotiations?