Why You Don’t Know What The Other Side Doesn’t Know

by drjim on February 14, 2014

You don't have to be psychic to be a good negotiator, but it helps…

You don’t have to be psychic to be a good negotiator, but it helps…
Image Credit

The trick to doing well at your next negotiation is to know who knows what no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Or another way of saying that is you want to fully understand what the other side of the table does not know. Hmm, this is all getting rather confusing. How about if we just say that when you enter into your next negotiation, you don’t want to be making any assumptions about what you think that the other side of the table knows.

So What Do They Really Know?

Before your next negotiation starts, I suspect that you’re going to take some time in order to check out the other side of the table. Well guess, what – they are going to do the same to you. This brings up a very interesting question that you need to find the answer to. Just exactly what do they know about you?

Here’s a very interesting fact about life – the other side may know absolutely nothing about you. Yep, they may have found out nada when they did their research. However, even in this situation, they are going to be operating with their own set of assumptions about you. You need to take care and make sure that you don’t provide them with any information about you that they’ll be able to use.

You need to be very careful to not make any assumptions about what the other side knows about you. More often than not, you’re going to be assuming that they know more than they really do. Don’t help them out. Instead, make them work to find out where you stand on the issues, what your motivations are, and what you want to get out of the negotiations.

What Do You Know About What The Other Side Knows?

Power in a negotiation is a very slipper thing. You may know that you don’t have a lot of it; however, the other side of the table may not know this. In this case, there is no reason to let them know that they hold the power.

During a negotiation you need to realize that the other side is always going to be checking you out, always trying to verity their assumptions about you. However, they’ll be doing this in their own way which might be different from the way that you’ll be going about doing it.

What this means for you is that you need to spend some time to understand how the other side is going to be trying to find out what you know. If this can be determined, then you just might be able to guide it and take control of what the other side learns about you. The power of being able to do this is immense – you’ll find yourself holding a great deal of the power in the negotiation if you can pull this off!

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

Negotiation is a game. In this game, knowledge is power. It’s not enough to just know things, you also have to know what the other side of the table knows. Making assumptions about what they know can be a very dangerous thing to do.

As negotiators we need to understand that before the principled negotiation starts, hopefully we’ve spent some time checking out the other side of the table. We can assume that they’ve done the same with us. We can’t make any assumptions about what they’ve learned. To do so will give some of our negotiating power away.

In order to conduct a successful negotiation, we need to understand what is known about us. However, it can be all too easy to assume that everything that we know, the other side also knows. This is never true. Take the time to sit back, clear out any wrong assumptions you may be making, and then get back to your negotiations. Make the other side work to find out what you really know!

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

Question For You: What’s the best way for sharing your knowledge with the other side of the table?

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

During a negotiation you always need to be asking yourself, what’s true and what’s not? You’d think that it would be easy to keep this kind of question in mind at all times; however, it turns out that it’s not. What can happen is that false legitimacy starts to creep into the negotiation and then everything gets screwed up…

Be Sociable, Share!

Previous post:

Next post: