When Should You Start To Prepare To Negotiate?

The time to start preparing for your next negotiation is now!
The time to start preparing for your next negotiation is now!
Image Credit:
stefanos papachristou

When you know that you will be involved in a negotiation in the future, when should you start to prepare for that negotiation? If you are like most of us, using the techniques that we probably learned back in high school, we tend to put off the getting ready work until the date that the negotiations are to start is almost upon us. It turns out that this is the wrong thing to do, we really need to start getting ready to negotiate long before the starting day arrives.

Always Prepare Early For Your Next Negotiation

Even if you have not been officially informed that you’ll be engaging in a negotiation in the future, you probably already know that it’s going to be coming your way along with all of its negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. You are probably currently in the introductory stages of one or more negotiations that may not start for quite some time.

If we wait too long to get ready for a negotiation, then what will happen is that we’ll find ourselves sitting across from the people that we’ll be negotiating with and all of sudden the information that we should have been gathering in order to prepare for this negotiation will have become much hard to acquire. If you find yourself in this situation, instead of having notes to use you’ll have to either wing it or do some serious improvisation.

What this means for you is that if you get the hint that you may be involved in a negotiation in the future, then the time to start planning for it is right now. Getting ready can take on a number of different forms, but it almost always starts with you taking a look at what published material exists. You can find answers to the questions that you may not even know that you should be asking in SEC filings, annual reports, Google searches, and news reports. Don’t forget about your personal network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who may have interacted with the person that you’ll be negotiating with or may know someone who did.

Success In A Negotiation Is All About Having The Right Map

One of the best ways for you to always be prepared for your next negotiation is to realize that negotiating is a continuous process. If you have negotiated with someone in the past, you have a pretty good chance that you’ll eventually be negotiating with them again in the future. This means that you can use the break between negotiations to do some homework. What you are going to want to spend your time finding out is both who the key decision makers are on the other side and just exactly who has the ability to influence them.

Long before the negotiation starts, you have a responsibility to be working to collect as much intelligence on the other side as you possibly can. You need to create your own “negotiation map” that will show you what pieces of information you are going to need and where you think that you’ll be able to obtain them from. Your best sources of information will come from the research that you do, from your informal contacts that know people on the other side, and of course anyone who has negotiated with the other side in the past.

What is critical for us to realize is that communication is a key component in the game of negotiating. The type of communication that we want to engage in is not to be considered as being either static or passive; rather think of it as being a continuous process that does not have a defined start or finish to it. Before you sit down to negotiate with the other side, you need to be planning out how you want those negotiations to go.

What All Of This Means For You

None of us is perfect and when it comes to preparing for a principled negotiation all too often we tend to put off preparing for the negotiation until just before things start. It turns out that this is the wrong thing to do. What we really need to realize is that negotiating is a continuous process and we always need to be getting ready.

Even if you have not been officially informed that you’ll be negotiating with another party, you can generally anticipate it. If you wait too long than you’ll find yourself ill-equipped for the negotiation and the information that you need will have become difficult and expensive to obtain. When you are preparing for a negotiation you have many different place that you can get your needed information from. This includes research done by you, your contacts, and your larger network that may know people who have negotiated with the other side in the past.

The good news is that you can walk into any negotiation confident and ready to negotiate a great deal. However, in order to get into this state, you are going to have to have done your homework before the negotiations started. This means that you had to realize that a negotiation was coming your way and you had to start getting ready early on. Make sure that you’re not waiting until the last minute to get ready for your next negotiation!

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

Question For You: Do you think how long the negotiation will take has any relationship to when you should start preparing for it?

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

Everyone starts a negotiation with a goal in mind of what they’d like to be able to get out of the negotiation no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are involved. As the negotiation proceeds, both sides engage in give and take where they both make and receive concessions. As the negotiation proceeds forward, the eventual deal that both sides will be able to live with starts to take shape. Its the concessions that we end up making during the negotiation that control how the negotiation goes.