To Be A Successful Negotiator, You Need To Know The Other Side’s Story

by drjim on August 30, 2013

To Be Successful, You're Going To Have To Listen To A Story

To Be Successful, You’re Going To Have To Listen To A Story
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As we prepare for a negotiation, it can be very easy to focus on the wrong thing. We think about the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that we plan on using during the negotiations and we forget that what is really important is sitting on the other side of the table from us. The other side always has a story and we need to take the time to learn it.

The Other Side’s Story

When you are negotiating with someone, you always have to realize that they have a story. There is a reason that they are willing to sit on the other side of the table from you. They want (or need) to get something out of this negotiation and there is a story that explains why they are willing to spend time with you in order to get it.

If you want to have any hope of understanding what kind of deal the other side is looking for or what kind of price they are going to be able to live with, then you are going to have to take the time to understand their viewpoint. No, this isn’t going to be easy to do, especially when you are focused on what you want to say / do; however, you’ll find that it’s the key to getting the deal that you want.

In order to understand the other side’s story, you need to become a good listener. They will be willing to tell your their story, you just need to be willing to listen to it. Your listening must be done without having you criticize them while they are telling it or interrupting them with your own thoughts. If you take the time to listen to their story, then you’ll get the respect of the other side for hearing them out.

What Happens If We Don’t Listen To The Story

Each of us can screw up when it comes to listening to the other side’s story. We may be in a rush or we simply just may not do a good job of listening. The result of this is that during the negotiations we may end up pushing the other side just a bit too far.

When you realize that this has happened you need to take action. You need to back things up and renegotiate with the other side. The importance of renegotiation can’t be over emphasized: if you’ve somehow backed the other side into a corner, then they’ll be actively searching for ways to get back at you.

Prevent this by backing things up and taking the time to listen to their story. Understand how they reached their position and have empathy for where they are coming from. By doing this you’ll be able to provide with them with relief from the situation that you’ve put them in and you’ll be able to reach a deal that both of you can live with.

What All Of This Means For You

As we prepare to negotiate, we can make a mistake and spend too much time focusing on what we want to do. If we do this then we won’t take the time to learn the other side’s story and that’s going to make everything a lot harder.

In order to learn the other side’s story you are going to have to listen to them. This means you need to not interrupt them and hear them out without criticism. If you don’t listen close enough and end up pushing the other side too far, then you need to be able to realize that it’s time to renegotiate.

Your next principled negotiation can result into a successful deal. However, in order to make this work out you are going to need to take the time to learn the other side’s story. Invest the time and you’ll find that the results make your investment well worth it.

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

Question For You: Do you think that you should just listen to the other side’s story or do you think that you need to ask questions to pull it out of them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I believe that we can all recognize when a negotiation starts. It might even be possible to recognize when a negotiation is about half-way through – some issues have been resolved, more remain to be discussed. However, push aside all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that are involved in a negotiation and one of the most difficult questions that a negotiator needs to be able to answer is just exactly when is a negotiation truly over?

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