The other side knows what you need to know, now how to get them to tell it to you

The other side knows what you need to know, now how to get them to tell it to you
Image Credit: Matus Laslofi

I’m all about doing my homework before I start a negotiation. I’ll have a talk with Google, call up people that the other side of the table have negotiated with in the past, and I’ll study the issues that we’ll be discussing. However, no matter how good of a job that I do in preparing for a negotiation, I fully realize that when the negotiations start, I won’t know everything that I need to know no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques I plan on using.. What this means is that I’m going to have to find some way to get the additional information that I need out of the other side during the negotiation. Exactly how to go about doing this is an art into itself…

Getting Started Getting Information

Information is the key to any successful negotiation. What you need to realize at the start of a negotiation is that you don’t know everything that you need to know. What this means is that as the negotiation starts, you’ve got a job to do. You are going to have to discover ways to get the other side to open up and tell you the things that you need to know. Of course you are going to have to do this in a way that does not reveal to the other side what you are trying to do.

One of the first things that you are going to have to do is to remind yourself that you need to listen to the other side more and talk less. I can only speak for myself, but this can be quite hard to do. You need to understand that everything the other side says comes along with a lot of other things: values, experience, emotions, and expectations. Your goal has to be to uncover the other side’s real objectives for this negotiation. Make sure that you engage in active listening where you lean forward, make eye contact, and smile when it’s appropriate.

The way that you draw information out of the other side is by asking them questions. However, the types of questions that you start out asking will be key. You don’t want to ask questions that can be answered with a “yes” or a “no”. Instead, you want to ask open-ended questions that are going to cause the other side to stop and think about what they want the answer to be. The purpose of these probing questions is to do two things: reduce the other side’s defensiveness and to gather critical information from them.

Getting The Other Side To Open Up

One of the things that it can be all too easy to overlook in the high pressure world of negotiations is that both sides of the table do have feelings. If you want to get information out of the other side, then you are going to have to take some time ad reflect what they are feeling. What this means is that you are going to have to try to take a look at the current situation through the eyes of the other side. What you want to be able to do is to let them know that you identify with the situation that they now find themselves in.

Before you can resolve the disagreements between the two sides, you are first going to have to make sure that you fully understand what their issues with you are. The best way to go about doing this is to first, take notes so that you can remember what their issues are, and then read your notes back to them. What you want to do here is to get agreement from the other side that your understanding of what has to be solved is the same as their understanding of what you are both going to have to be working on.

The best way to get information from the other side is to let them know that they’ve done something good when they share information with you. What this means is that when they share something with you, you need to express your appreciation for them doing it. This can be as simple as a smile, a nod, or a wink. If they do something that you don’t want them to do, then ignore it. Praise the things that they do that you do want them to do. By encouraging the behavior that you want them to exhibit and discouraging the behavior that you don’t want them to exhibit you’ll gently nudge them towards revealing more to you.

What All Of This Means For You

Hopefully we all understand that it is necessary to prepare for our next principled negotiation. However, what many of us don’t fully understand is that preparing can only be partially done before the negotiations start. No matter how hard we try, there will always be things that only the other side of the table can answer for us. In order to complete our understanding of what we need to know in order to be successful, we’re going to have to get the other side to share information with us.

There are a number of different ways to go about doing this. Perhaps the simplest is to take the time to really listen to what the other side is saying. How they are saying will convey a great deal of information about how they are feeling and what is important to them. Questions are a great way to get the other side to tell you what they are thinking. Just make sure that you ask the right types of questions. Understanding that the other side has feelings and respecting them will go a long way in getting them to open up to you. There will be disagreements between both sides, but you need to make sure that you fully understand them before you start discussions on how to resolve them.

Understanding that the way that we’re going to be able to get the deal that we want out of our next negotiation is by mastering the art of collecting the information that we need from the other side is important. Take the time to understand how you can get the other side to open up to you and you’ll be able to get all of the information that you need. With this information, you’ll get the deal that you want.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: How much time during a negotiation should you spend trying to get information from the other side?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Who gets what out of a negotiation is often determined not by what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used but rather by who has the most power. This is actually sort of an amusing thing because of the very nature of power – we can’t see it, we don’t know who has it and who does not, and it can flow from one person to another very quickly. What all of this means for us as negotiators is that we need to take the time to understand how power works in a negotiation and, more importantly, how we can make it work for us.

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Information is the key to getting the deal that you want from your negotiation

Information is the key to getting the deal that you want from your negotiation

Image Credit: Mark Deckers

If you want to have any hope of getting the deal that you are seeking out of your next negotiation, then you’re going to need some information in order to be able to make the right decisions. Yes, you’ll need to do some homework and see what you can find out about the other side and the issue that you’ll be negotiating; however, there will be a great deal of information that only the other side of the table can provide you with. How are you going to get this information?

Getting The Information That You Need

The other side has the information that you are going to need to get your hands on in order to guide this negotiation to successful conclusion no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Now the big question is how are you going to get the information that you need? The very first thing that you need to keep in mind is that when you show up at a negotiation, you want your behavior to enable the flow of information. What this means for you is that you are not going to want to prematurely judge the other side or their objectives for the negotiation. You don’t know what they want or need so don’t try to guess.

When the negotiations start, the other side is going to kick things off by making an initial offer. When you hear this offer you need to be very careful to not judge them. What you need to do is to listen very carefully to what their initial offer / demand is. What you are not going to want to do is to equate what they are telling you right off the bat with what they really want to get out of the negotiation. Do not take what they are telling you literally. Instead, stay calm and cool no matter what they tell you. It is going to be your job to ask them questions in order to probe them and find out what their real interests and needs are. It’s going to be these needs that they are going to want to find ways to address during the negotiations, not necessarily the ones that they starting things off with. If you are going to want to be able to get to the deal that you are looking for, it’s going to have to be based on the information that you collect regarding the other side’s real needs.

It’s All About Trust

If you want to have any chance of being able to reach an agreement with the other side, then both of you are going to have to find a way to trust each other. Although this is an easy thing to say, it turns out that it can be a very difficult thing to do. We need to understand that trust is a very fragile thing. We build trust with the other side by using incremental steps that will require both sides to take risks and expect reciprocation.

More often than not, when you initially sit down at the negotiating table you will be meeting the other side for the first time. Since we have no prior experience with the other side, there will be hesitancy on your part to be willing to share information with them. The reason that we are not willing to immediately open up to the other side is that we all harbor a fear that if we share too much with them, what is going to happen is that they are going to take this information and end up using it against us.

A great way to start to overcome apprehensions like this for both sides is to show the other side from the start of the negotiation that you understand them and the situation that they now find themselves in. What you want to do is to empathize with them and the concerns that they are bringing into the negotiations. The message that you want to get across to them using your deeds, words, and your attitude is that in every negotiation differences are a normal part of the process. You want them to understand that you view this negotiation as an opportunity to explore what solutions exist and see if the two of you can find one that will meet the needs of both sides.

What All Of This Means For You

In every principled negotiation, your ability to get the deal that you want is based on you having the information that you’ll need from the other side. Yes, you can do your homework to make sure that you arrive with as much information as possible; however, you are still going to have to collect more information from the other side.

When the negotiation starts, you need to be careful to not come to the table with preexisting conclusions about the other side or what they want to get out of the negotiations. Additionally, you need to understand that how the other side chooses to start the negotiation may not reflect what they really want to get out of the negotiations. You need to keep an open mind and ask a lot of questions. Trust is a critical part of any negotiated agreement. It is your responsibility to take steps to build this trust.

Since we all want to walk away from the negotiating table with the agreement that will meet our needs, it sure seems to make sense to find ways to gather as much information about the other side that we can. The better the information that you can gather, the better an agreement you will be able to reach.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If the opening position of the other side is outlandish, do you think that you should react or let it go?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m all about doing my homework before I start a negotiation. I’ll have a talk with Google, call up people that the other side of the table have negotiated with in the past, and I’ll study the issues that we’ll be discussing. However, no matter how good of a job that I do in preparing for a negotiation, I fully realize that when the negotiations start, I won’t know everything that I need to know no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques I plan on using.. What this means is that I’m going to have to find some way to get the additional information that I need out of the other side during the negotiation. Exactly how to go about doing this is an art into itself…

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