Just Exactly What Information Should You Share During A Negotiation?

What information you share can be part of an anchoring strategy
What information you share can be part of an anchoring strategy
Image Credit: ryancr

Let’s face it: none of us go into a negotiation wanting to share our information with the other side. We view the information that we have as being the key to our ability to get a good deal. If we share too much, then our chances of getting the deal that we want probably go away. However, a negotiation no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques you are using, is all about sharing information and if we want the other side to share with us, then we’re probably going to have to share with them. What should we share and how should we go about sharing it?

To Share Or Not To Share?

When we enter into a negotiation, we are faced with the prospect of sharing or not sharing information that we have. Let’s face it, the prospect of sharing information with a negotiating counterpart can be scary. The reason that this makes us nervous is because it can fix the other side into a position at the negotiation table you didn’t intend (this is an example of the anchoring effect). If you share too much, there is the possibility that the other side might conclude that you’re desperate to make a deal, any deal. You also face the risk of giving away privileged information that the other side could use against you. Taking the time to analyze the pros and cons of sharing information in negotiation will help you approach negotiation scenarios with a greater sense of confidence and security.

The whole information sharing thing starts with a single question: who should share first? You should not wait for the other side to open up to you first. The reason that you don’t want to do this is because the advantages of sharing information during negotiation have been well documented. Thanks to the power of reciprocity, the other side is likely to match any information you share with valuable information of their own.

When we enter into a negotiation, we should feel comfortable revealing information about our interests in the negotiation, as well as our priorities across different issues. However, this doesn’t mean that if there are five issues on the table, you should reveal that you care about only two of them. Instead, what you are going to want to do is to stress that all the issues are important to you, but you’d have a hard time budging on two of them.

What Information Should Be Shared?

This all comes down to what types of information we should feel comfortable about sharing when we are in a negotiation. Here are some types of information   you generally should feel comfortable sharing:

Information That Is Required By Law

There is some information that we will bring into a negotiation that is covered by laws and regulations. What you don’t want to do is to risk serious anchoring effect issues such as getting into hot water by concealing information you’re legally or ethically required to disclose. A good example of situations like this include home sellers who may be required to reveal known property defects to potential buyers. Prior to starting a negotiation, take the time to research relevant laws and professional standards.

Any Information That Requires “Damage Control” From You

When we find ourselves in a courtroom, we’ll often see a defense attorney questioning her client in court about incriminating information before the prosecution can raise the issue. What this means for us as negotiators is that the best way to handle troubling facts may be to come clean to the other side. If you were interviewing for a job and you had been fired from your previous position, for both ethical and strategic reasons, you would be wise to explain what happened to an interviewer rather than waiting for him to discover it during a reference check.

Any Readily Available Information

When we enter into a negotiation, we may believe that we have information that is not available to the other side. However, these days, information that was once difficult to track down—including financial and disclosure statements, legal documents, and news reports – may be just a Google search away. What we need to do is to make a decision whether to share sensitive information that’s widely available. You need to assess what would happen if the other side discovered such information on their own.

What All Of This Means For You

Any principled negotiation that we participate in will always be all about information sharing. Both sides enter into the negotiation with the goal of getting the deal that they want. In order to make this happen, they are going to have to convince the other side that they should agree with them. In order to make this happen, information is going to have to be shared. As negotiators, this leaves us with the difficult question of just exactly what types of information we should share with the other side.

Sharing information in a negotiation is never easy to do. As negotiators we fear that doing so will allow the other side to set an anchor that will make the rest of the negotiations more difficult for us. Additionally, we might reveal that we are desperate and that could cause them to take advantage of us. We need to understand that we need to be the ones who start to share information first. Make sure that you feel comfortable about the information that you are sharing. We should always share information that is required by law. Any information that may be damaging to us or our position should be shared by us before the other side finds out about it. Finally, you need to determine if you are willing to share any readily available information.

In the world of negotiations, information is what makes the world go around. We will always be sharing information with the other side when we are negotiating with them. However, making sure that we understand what information we want to share is the key to being able to reach the deal that we want. In your next negotiation, take the time to consider what information you have and what parts of it you want to share.

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

Question For You: Do you ever think that you should share information with the other side before the negotiations start?

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