Testing Is What Good Negotiators Do Best

by drjim on August 23, 2013

During a negotiation, tests come in all sizes

During a negotiation, tests come in all sizes
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I’m not sure how you felt about testing back when you were in school, but I can tell you that I really didn’t like it. However, I’ve put that all behind me now that I negotiate. It turns out that testing is something that every negotiator needs to be good at even if that means that you’ve got to go back to school. Read on and I’ll explain myself.

Test The Other Side’s Negotiating Skills

I’ve got some news for you that I suspect that you already know: in a negotiation, a skilled negotiator will always do better than an unskilled negotiator. The reason for this should be pretty clear. A skilled negotiator is going to know more about tactics, countermeasures, and strategies that will be required to reach a favorable outcome.

What this means for you is that when a negotiation starts, you are going to have to be constantly testing the other side of the table. Try a tactic and see how they react. Employ a countermeasure to one of their moves and see if they implement a countermeasure to your countermeasure. If you find that they are matching your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques, then you’ll know that you are up against a tough competitor. If they don’t seem to understand what you are doing, then you just may have the upper hand in this negotiation.

Test The Resolve Of The Other Side

Just exactly how firm is the other side of the table’s position on any given issue in a negotiation? Although it may appear that they are inflexible on a given negotiation point, always take the time to test their resolve.

The simple fact is that you’ll never know how flexible they are willing to be until you test them. The truth of the matter is that the other side may also not know how much resolve they have on an issue until you start to push them on it. They may not know how many concessions that they will be willing to make until you ask for them.

What All Of This Means For You

It turns out that testing is not something that is only done in schools. Every negotiator needs to be willing to go into their next principled negotiation ready to test the other side.

This kind of negotiation testing can take on many different forms. It can be as simple as testing the skills of the other side by using a tactic and observing how they react to it. It can be a bit more complex as you test their resolve and discover how many concessions they are going to be willing to make to you.

In the end we all need to realize just exactly what the testing that is done during a negotiation is: it is a way of collecting more information about the negotiation. If you can lean to do this type of testing well, then you’ll earn high marks during your next negotiation!

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

Question For You: What do you think your best course of action is if your testing reveals that the outer side has a lot of resolve regarding one point being negotiated?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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.

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