I got a phone call from a Fortune 500 CEO last week whom I had never met. After decades of begging the government to relax their regulatory grip and let his industry experience the joys of competition, his wish had been granted -- and his bottom line had plummeted.

He wanted me to talk to his top executives for two hours and zero in on negotiating strategies.

A bit overwhelmed, I said, "I'm very flattered but frankly, I don't know if I can talk for two hours on negotiating."

Then I realized I was actually negotiating with myself. As my brain finally reconnected, I cut myself off. "Well, let me sleep on it and I'll get back to you."

Later that evening, I began to write down some of my negotiating experiences and saw that my problem was going to be holding the speech down to two hours.

I'd already brushed up against the first and second laws of negotiating that morning in my conversation with the CEO.

1. Never accept any proposal immediately, no matter how good it sounds.

2. Never negotiate with yourself. You'll furnish the other side with ammunition they might never have gotten themselves. Don't raise a bid or lower an offer without first getting a response.

Here are some more rules of the road:

3. Never cut a deal with someone who has to "go back and get the boss' approval." That gives the other side two bites of the apple to your one. They can take any deal you are willing to make and renegotiate it.

4. If you can't say yes, it's no. Just because a deal can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. No one ever went broke saying "no" too often.

5. Just because it may look nonnegotiable, doesn't mean it is. Take that beautifully printed "standard contract" you've just been handed. Many a smart negotiator has been able to name a term and gets away with it by making it appear to be chiseled in granite, when they will deal if their bluff is called.

6. Do your homework before you deal. Learn as much as you can about the other side. Instincts are no match for information.

7. Rehearse. Practice. Get someone to play the other side. Then switch roles. Instincts are no match for preparation.

8. Beware the late dealer. Feigning indifference or casually disregarding timetables is often just a negotiator's way of trying to make you believe he/she doesn't care if you make the deal or not.

9. Be nice, but if you can't be nice, go away and let someone else do the deal. You'll blow it.

10. A deal can always be made when both parties see their own benefit in making it.

11. A dream is a bargain no matter what you pay for it. Set the scene. Tell the tale. Generate excitement. Help the other side visualize the benefits, and they'll sell themselves.

12. Don't discuss your business where it can be overheard by others. Almost as many deals have gone down in elevators as elevators have gone down.

13. Watch the game films. Top players in any game, including negotiating, debrief themselves immediately after every major session. They always keep a book on themselves and the other side.

14. No one is going to show you their hole card. You have to figure out what they really want. Clue: Since the given reason is never the real reason, you can eliminate the given reason.

15. Always let the other side talk first. Their first offer could surprise you and be better than you ever expected.

Author's Bio: 

Harvey Mackay has redesigned the concept of business networking. Author of the New York Times #1 bestsellers Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt, he is no stranger to the challenges encompassing the business world. His books are among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. Mackay’s books have sold 10 million copies in 80 countries and have been translated into 37 languages.

Walk with Mackay as he discusses the secrets to constructing and upholding a network that will yield exciting new experiences, increased job security, and an expanded financial reach. Harvey Mackay believes most people make the crucial mistake of only turning to their network when the need it.

Harvey Mackay’s website, www.harveymackay.com, along with his book, The Harvey Mackay Rolodex Network Builder, reveal secrets for network building as a lifelong practice and emphasize taking business relations to a personal level.

Mackay is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Executive Program. Mackay is a nationally syndicated columnist for United Feature Syndicate, whose weekly articles appear in 52 newspapers around the country including: the Chicago Sun Times, Rocky Mountain News, Orange County Register, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Arizona Republic. Harvey Mackay is also one of America's most popular business speakers and was named by Toastmasters International as one of the top five speakers in the world.