A negotiator should always think in terms of three sorts of proposals. The following section describes these proposals.

What do you want?

Low expectations tend to be self-fulfilling. What you don’t seek and don’t ask for, the other side is unlikely to give. Those who begin with realistically high aspirations often end up with more favorable agreements. The definition of “realistic” is set by the other side’s best walk-away alternative.

What would you be content with?

What agreement, although far from perfect, would satisfy your basic interests that you would be reasonably content?

What could you live with?

This is based directly on your assessment of your walk-away alternative. What agreement would satisfy your interests better, if only marginally, than your best alternative? Are there any factors that would make an otherwise minimally acceptable proposal unacceptable?