Why Understanding How The Other Side Thinks Is So Important In A Negotiation

by drjim on September 26, 2014

You have to know what is going on in the other side's brain

You have to know what is going on in the other side’s brain
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I can only speak for myself, but as of yet I have not figured that whole “mind reading” thing out. What this means is that if I want to understand how the other side of the table is viewing the negotiation that we are currently involved in no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used, I’m going to have to make sure that I understand human psychology. This means that there are three key motivators that I’ve got to know how to use during my next negotiation.

Aim High And Hold Back

Beginning negotiators always make the same mistake: they start the negotiations out with their best offer. Alternatively, they may also make far too many concessions early on in the negotiations. What they haven’t learned is what experienced negotiations have always known: you’ve got to learn how to hold back.

When you are involved in a negotiation, you are going to have to use both patience and some strategic thinking in order to get the deal that you want. Keep in mind that in order for the other side to walk away from the negotiation feeling satisfied that they got a good deal you need to provide them with the opportunity to work for it. Always start out lower than your best offer and allow the other side to work you up to it.

People Fear People Who Are Better Than They Are

People like to negotiate with people that they feel that they are equal with. What this means for you is that if you are going into a negotiation in which you feel that the other side has more experience, money, or power than you do, you will feel as though you are negotiating from a disadvantage. You need to fix this problem.

An easy way to resolve this situation is to look for ways to connect with the person who is on the other side of the table. Work to establish rapport by finding things that you have in common. If they talk in a particular way or dress in a particular way, match them so that they’ll feel more at ease with you.

Dumb Is The New Smart

During a negotiation, dumb is not what it always seems to be. There are many cases in which the other side of the table may be playing dumb in an attempt to get you to talk down to them. The less that you think of their ability to negotiate, the better the negotiating position they’ll be in.

Likewise, if someone starts to talk down to you during a negotiation, let them! Don’t push back – let them explain even the simplest of things to you. The more that you can get them to talk, the more information that they may let slip out to you.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to be successful in a principled negotiation we have to be able to understand how the other side of the table is viewing the negotiation. In order to have this understanding we need to accept that human psychology is always at work and this means that we need to find ways to use it to our advantage.

In order to get the best deal in a negotiation you need to learn how to hold back. You’ll never get your best deal right off the bat. When we negotiate with someone that we feel is in a more powerful position than we are, it is important that we try to connect with them and establish rapport in order to overcome these feelings. Finally, by playing dumb you can often get the other side to reveal more to you than they had intended.

Until the day comes where we’re able to read the other side’s mind just by looking at them, we need to be very aware of how human psychology works. If we can understand how the other side thinks, then we’ll be able to create a negotiation that gets us the deal that we want.

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

Question For You: When you are playing dumb, what’s the best way to get the other side to explain something to you?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ok, so I admit it, “win” is generally not a term that we are supposed to use when talking about a negotiation. Remember, it’s not about winning or losing a negotiation, but rather how you play the game. However, let’s say that what I really mean is that no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used in your next negotiation, you should take the time to let Mr. Zipf help you to get the best deal possible. How’s that? Better?

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