Successful Negotiating Always Involves Giving

When and where in a negotiation should you give?
When and where in a negotiation should you give?
Image Credit: Kyle Pearson

I can only speak for myself, but when I think about negotiating, I often think about taking. What can I get from the other side? What negotiation styles or negotiating techniques can I use to I talk them into giving up more concessions to me? However, it turns out that I (and a lot of other negotiators) just might have gotten this all wrong. Is it possible that successful negotiating is really all about giving? If this is true, then just exactly when should we be giving during a negotiation and what should we be giving?

The Art Of Giving In A Negotiation

The thing that all negotiators always have to remember is that communication is the foundation of any successful negotiation. This communication stuff can be tricky because it is a two-way street. Not only do we need to be getting valuable information from the other side of the table, but we also have to be providing them with valuable information at the same time.

There is a thing that is called the “norm of reciprocity” and this is something that can have a big impact on the other side’s attitude. Allowing the other side to gain information from you will feed this need and can have a big impact on their expectations for the negotiations. What this means for you is that you need to very carefully map out what your bargaining objectives are before the negotiations start. Once you know these, then you’ll have to make sure that during the negotiations that you are sending coherent, consistent, and timely messages to the other side.

All too often when you start a negotiation with someone, you are going to discover that they have bad information. They have erroneous information about either you or what you are trying to get out of this negotiation. Additionally, they may have unrealistic expectations about what they will be able to get out of the negotiations. Once you realize that this situation exists, you are going to have to start to give them reality based information with the hopes that by doing so you’ll be able to alter their view of the world. If you don’t take the time to do this, then when changes are introduced later on, the other side will respond by saying “no”.

It’s All About Timing

One thing that it can be easy to overlook is the simple fact that it can take a while for the other side to both digest and then get comfortable with any information that you have presented to them that is different from what they currently believe. This is called the “principal of acceptance time”. Simply put, people need time to get use to a new concept, idea, or approach to a negotiation.

When someone comes to a negotiation with unrealistic expectations, it’s going to be up to you to deliver the bad news to them. In order to avoid running into a dilemma where this news derails the negotiations later in the process, you are going to want to share it with the other side as early as possible. The goal of doing this is to cause the other side to revise their expectations as to what they can expect in order to conform to reality.

Take the time to involve the other side in getting to this understanding and you’ll find that they tend to be both understanding and supportive of the eventual outcome of the negotiations. If they feel that you have suddenly surprised them with new information, then they are going to push back on it. However, if you have brought them along and revealed it to them piece-by-piece and explained why it is so, then they are going to be more accepting of the way that things are.

What All Of This Means For You

Good communication is at the heart of all negotiations. As negotiators we need to understand that good communication consists of information flowing in two directions.

There is a part of every principled negotiation where you are going to have to act as a giver. The other side needs additional information in order made decisions and you need to be the person who provides them with this information. If you provide them with the information that they need, they will get what they need out of the negotiations. You need to be careful to feed them the information that they need, the way that they want it. You do need to understand that sometimes the other side has incorrect information. You can change their minds, but you need to give them time to digest the new information that you give to them.

Negotiating is not an easy task. You need to provide the other side with the information that they’ll need to agree to a deal with you. You also have to make sure that they are dealing with the correct information. Take the time to provide good information and your negotiations will go that much better.

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

Question For You: If you discover the other side has bad information, should you ever tell them that they are wrong?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So just exactly what is the goal of your next negotiation going to be? Sure, after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are over and done with you’d like to be able to walk away from the bargaining table with the deal that you are looking for, but what is it going to take in order to make that happen? In order for any negotiation to be considered a success, it turns out that the other side is going to have to be satisfied with the results of the negotiation. Now just exactly how are you going to make sure that this happens?

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