How To Increase Your Power In A Negotiation: Keep Very Good Records

by drjim on June 17, 2016

Success in a negotiation comes from doing your homework and keeping good records

Success in a negotiation comes from doing your homework and keeping good records
Image Credit: Tim

If we ran the world, and we don’t (yet), then every time that we started a negotiation we’d be in control of how it was going to go. We’d be able to control what issues the other side would object to and which ones they’d be willing to go along with. When an objection came up, we’d deal with it masterfully and quickly resolve it in our favor and then move on. Although we don’t control the world, we can take steps to make our next negotiation go the way that we want it to go.

The Power Of Having Good Notes

I think that if there is one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that a negotiating is a complex undertaking when you consider all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that both sides use. There are potentially multiple people, place, issues, and even multiple meetings that are all involved in trying to reach a workable agreement with the other side of the table.

What you want to do is to convince the other side that your thoughts and the type of deal that you are trying to create with them is the way to go. In a complex negotiation, making this happen can be quite a challenge. In order to make it happen you have the responsibility of taking good notes all throughout the negotiations.

If you can take the time and the effort to do this, then you will be the person who is participating in the negotiations who is more prepared than the other people. If you can always be more prepared, then you’ll always have a much better chance of getting what you want out of the negotiations.

How Best To Use Your Good Notes

Taking a lot of very good notes will serve you well during a negotiation. Your notes will be a true record of what has actually happened at different times during the negotiations. At any point in time during the negotiations, this can come in very handy. No, you won’t always be able to remember off the top of your head what has been said or agreed to, but nor will the other side.

This is why you notes can become so valuable. Undoubtedly at some point in time during the negotiations the other side is going to bring up some issues that nobody every agreed to negotiate. Even worse, they may say something that contradicts a position that they had taken earlier in the negotiations. When any of these events occurs, this is the time for you to go back to your notes and use them as a defensive weapon against the other side and get them back to the table and moving in the right direction with you.

They way that you are going to have to use your notes in order to resolve an issue is just like a lawyer would use them in court. Knowing the correct date, you are going to have to be able to refer to a specific discussion that took place. You’ll have to be able to describe what was discussed on that date in detail. If you can pull this off, then you will have created a compelling argument for yourself and you should be able to steer the negotiations into the direction that you want them to go.

What All Of This Means For You

Whenever we start a principled negotiation, we would like to do everything that we can to ensure that the negotiations will go the way that we want them to go. No, we can’t control everything that happens in a negotiation; however, by taking very good notes we can steer things in the way that we want them to go.

One of the basic rules of negotiating is that the side that shows up the most prepared is probably going to walk away a winner. One way to view the notes that you take during a negotiation is to view them as a defense. You’ll always have to be ready to use those notes if the other side brings up new issues or if they end up contradicting some that they said earlier. You’ll have to use them like a lawyer would and point out what was said on a given date and by whom.

No, during a negotiation it is no fun having to take on the additional job of creating good notes that capture everything that is being said. However, if you can find both the time and the willpower to do this, then you will have created a powerful defense for yourself. Take good notes and then use them when you need them!

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

Question For You: Do you think that taking good notes is something that you delegate to a member of your negotiating team?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Ok, so I’m willing to admit it – I’m lazy. If I can get someone else to do work for me, more often than not I’ll ask them to do it. The problem with being this way is that I spend a great deal of my time negotiating. It turns out that when you are a negotiator, this “Tom Sawer’s white picket fence” technique where you get others to do your work really is not what you want. You really want to be the one who is doing all of the work!

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