Negotiators Know To Never Take Things At Face Value

by drjim on January 31, 2014

All is not always as it seems during a negotiation

All is not always as it seems during a negotiation
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Ah trust. It’s one of the little things that allows us to interact with people every day – we assume that they will do what they promise to do and likewise the people that we interact with assume that we’ll keep our word. You would think that going into a negotiation, there would need to be some base level of trust in order for the thing to even start. Just how much you should trust the other side of the table is a question that far too many negotiators get wrong with disastrous results.

Don’t Accept Anything At Face Value During A Negotiation

I’m not going to start things off by telling you that the other side of the table is always going to be lying to you about everything that they tell you right off the bat in a negotiation. No matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being using by them, that would be too harsh. Instead, let’s say that they will perhaps be putting a spin on everything that they tell you – yes, some of it may be true, but there are other parts that might be a little bit less true.

What this means for you is that you need to be filled with doubt about everything that the other side tells you. The best way for you to approach a negotiation is to assume that everything that that you think that you know to be true is not true. As the negotiation goes on, you’ll learn more and you may find out that some of the beliefs and assumptions that had were correct. That’s great news, but you couldn’t assume it at the start of the negotiations.

This may all seem fairly depressing to you – I mean, don’t we normally want to trust the people that we are dealing with? Don’t worry. The purpose of a negotiation is for you to build trust with the other side of the table. However, you never want to start things out by taking what the other side of the table says at face value.

Always Be Testing Facts That Are Given To You

In order to get from where things start (not trusting anything that they say) to where they need to be (some level of trust), you are going to have to do several things during your next negotiation. The first of these is that you are going to have to start to verify everything that the other side says.

What this means is that when the other side of the table makes a statement, you are going to have to continuously test what they are saying to see if any of your assumptions is now been found to be wrong.

What this comes down to is that this is a critical negotiating skill. Some of the information that the other side will be giving you will be true while others will be partially true and yet even more will be false. It’s only by taking the time to test what you are being told, to collect more information and see if what you’ve been told holds up that you’ll be able to sort out what parts you can trust.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for you to reach a deal with the other side of the table during your next principled negotiation, you are going to have to be able to trust them. However, as the negotiation starts, you really don’t know them well enough to take anything that they say at face value.

This means that you need to keep reminding yourself to always be verifying everything that they say. You don’t want to trust anything that the other side says until you’ve had a chance to test it for accuracy. You need to assume that all of your beliefs about the other side are wrong. With a little luck, you may discover that some of them are right and that will be good news for you.

Trust is something that has to be earned as a part of every negotiation. As negotiators we need to always remember that when a negotiation is first starting, nobody has earned our trust. We need to be very careful and not accept anything that is said at face value.

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

Question For You: When during a negotiation do you think that you can first start to trust what the other side is telling you?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When you know that you are going to be entering into a negotiating situation, what’s the one thing that you don’t want to bring to the table with you? It has nothing to do with the negotiation styles or negotiating techniques that will be used during the negotiations. I can think of several things, however, the most important thing that you don’t want to bring is, of course, fear.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Roxanne T February 4, 2014 at 12:56 am

“Trust is something that has to be earned as a part of every negotiation.” It’s very essential to build trust first and the business will follow.

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drjim February 7, 2014 at 10:40 am

Roxanne: You are 100% correct. Taking the time to build that trust in a negotiation is something that will serve you well the next time that you negotiate with the same people…

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