The unabridged edition of the Random House Dictionary of the English language defines negotiation as the “mutual discussion of the terms of a transaction or agreement.” The College Edition also defines negotiation as “mutual discussion” but it correctly adds the words “aiming at an agreement, at least for most negotiations.” But discussion isn’t indispensable. Negotiation can be tacit as well as explicit. Unless automobile drivers tacitly agree with each other on who goes first, the result might be unfortunate.
As with the tango, it takes two to negotiate. But there are many different steps the negotiators can take during the course of a negotiation. Sometimes silence is a significant declaration. Body language can also speak volumes.
Negotiators constantly try to deduce their opponents top or bottom reservation price by carefully studying what their opponents say or do or don’t say or do and how they say or do it.