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"Mastering Negotiation Through Email: Using Minto's Principle"

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Negotiation is an essential skill that is required in both personal and professional life. It is a process of reaching an agreement between two or more parties that have different needs, wants, or interests. Negotiation can happen through various mediums, including face-to-face communication, video calls, and email communication. In this blog, we will discuss how to negotiate through email using Minto's principle.


Minto's principle is a technique developed by Barbara Minto, an ex-McKinsey consultant, to communicate effectively and persuasively. The principle is based on the idea of breaking down complex ideas into smaller, more manageable chunks. The principle consists of four parts: Situation, Complication, Question, and Answer. Let us discuss how to apply this principle in negotiating through emails.

1. Core Message: The core message is the primary message that you want to convey to the recipient. It should be clear, concise, and to the point. It should also be stated upfront, so the recipient knows immediately what the message is about. The core message should answer the following question: What is the primary message that I want to convey in this email?


For example, you could start your email by saying:

Dear [Name],

I am writing to negotiate a better price & delivery terms for the raw materials that we have been purchasing from your company for the past year.


2. Supporting Arguments: The supporting arguments are the reasons why the core message is true. They provide evidence to support the core message and help to persuade the recipient. The supporting arguments should be structured logically and sequentially. Each supporting argument should build on the previous one and lead to the next. The supporting arguments should answer the following question: What are the reasons why the core message is true?


For example, you could say:

Our procurement team has conducted a thorough analysis of the current market prices for raw materials and has found that the prices of the input commodities have reduced over the last few months. According to the commodity forecast, the prices are expected to remain stable over the next year. Additionally, we have been a loyal customer of your company and have consistently placed large orders.


3. Supporting Data: The supporting data is the evidence that supports the supporting arguments. It can be quantitative or qualitative and should be presented in a way that is clear and easy to understand. The supporting data should answer the following question: What evidence supports the supporting arguments?


For example, you could say:

According to our analysis, the market prices for raw materials have decreased by an average of 15% over the past six months. However, the prices we are paying your company have remained the same, which is significantly higher than the market average. Additionally, our procurement team has placed orders worth over $500,000 with your company in the past year, which we believe warrants a better price.


4. Call to Action: The call to action is the action that you want the recipient to take after reading the email. It should be clear and specific, and the recipient should know exactly what they need to do next. The call to action should answer the following question: What action do I want the recipient to take?


For example, you could say:


Based on our analysis and the evidence presented, we believe that a reduction of 10% in the price of raw materials would be appropriate. We would appreciate it if you could review our request and let us know your decision by the end of next week.


By using Minto's principle, you can break down your negotiation into smaller, more manageable chunks, making it easier for the other party to understand and respond. This technique can be especially helpful when negotiating through email, where communication can be more challenging.

In addition to Minto's principle, there are a few other tips you can keep in mind when negotiating through email:

  1. Be clear and concise: Emails should be easy to read and understand. Use short sentences and paragraphs to break up your message and make it easier to follow.

  2. Use bullet points: When presenting options or proposals, use bullet points to make them easier to read and compare.

  3. Stay professional: Even though you are negotiating through email, it is essential to maintain a professional tone. Avoid using slang or informal language and always proofread your email before sending it.

  4. Keep your goals in mind: It's easy to get caught up in the back-and-forth of negotiation, but don't forget what your goals are. Keep them in mind as you negotiate and make sure you are working towards them.

  5. Be flexible: Negotiation is about finding a solution that works for both parties. Be open to alternative solutions and be willing to compromise.

  6. Don't rush: While email can be a quick and convenient way to negotiate, don't rush the process. Take the time to consider your responses and ensure that you are communicating your thoughts clearly.

  7. Follow up: After your negotiation is complete, follow up with a summary email that outlines what was agreed upon. This will ensure that both parties are on the same page and will help avoid any misunderstandings.



In conclusion, negotiation through email can be a challenging but effective way to reach an agreement. By using Minto's principle and following the tips outlined above, you can communicate your thoughts clearly, stay professional, and work towards a solution that benefits both parties. Remember to keep your goals in mind, be flexible, and don't rush the process. Good luck with your negotiations!

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