The Challenge Of Getting Accurate Information In A Negotiation

Information is the key to getting the deal that you want from your negotiation
Information is the key to getting the deal that you want from your negotiation

Image Credit: Mark Deckers

If you want to have any hope of getting the deal that you are seeking out of your next negotiation, then you’re going to need some information in order to be able to make the right decisions. Yes, you’ll need to do some homework and see what you can find out about the other side and the issue that you’ll be negotiating; however, there will be a great deal of information that only the other side of the table can provide you with. How are you going to get this information?

Getting The Information That You Need

The other side has the information that you are going to need to get your hands on in order to guide this negotiation to successful conclusion no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Now the big question is how are you going to get the information that you need? The very first thing that you need to keep in mind is that when you show up at a negotiation, you want your behavior to enable the flow of information. What this means for you is that you are not going to want to prematurely judge the other side or their objectives for the negotiation. You don’t know what they want or need so don’t try to guess.

When the negotiations start, the other side is going to kick things off by making an initial offer. When you hear this offer you need to be very careful to not judge them. What you need to do is to listen very carefully to what their initial offer / demand is. What you are not going to want to do is to equate what they are telling you right off the bat with what they really want to get out of the negotiation. Do not take what they are telling you literally. Instead, stay calm and cool no matter what they tell you. It is going to be your job to ask them questions in order to probe them and find out what their real interests and needs are. It’s going to be these needs that they are going to want to find ways to address during the negotiations, not necessarily the ones that they starting things off with. If you are going to want to be able to get to the deal that you are looking for, it’s going to have to be based on the information that you collect regarding the other side’s real needs.

It’s All About Trust

If you want to have any chance of being able to reach an agreement with the other side, then both of you are going to have to find a way to trust each other. Although this is an easy thing to say, it turns out that it can be a very difficult thing to do. We need to understand that trust is a very fragile thing. We build trust with the other side by using incremental steps that will require both sides to take risks and expect reciprocation.

More often than not, when you initially sit down at the negotiating table you will be meeting the other side for the first time. Since we have no prior experience with the other side, there will be hesitancy on your part to be willing to share information with them. The reason that we are not willing to immediately open up to the other side is that we all harbor a fear that if we share too much with them, what is going to happen is that they are going to take this information and end up using it against us.

A great way to start to overcome apprehensions like this for both sides is to show the other side from the start of the negotiation that you understand them and the situation that they now find themselves in. What you want to do is to empathize with them and the concerns that they are bringing into the negotiations. The message that you want to get across to them using your deeds, words, and your attitude is that in every negotiation differences are a normal part of the process. You want them to understand that you view this negotiation as an opportunity to explore what solutions exist and see if the two of you can find one that will meet the needs of both sides.

What All Of This Means For You

In every principled negotiation, your ability to get the deal that you want is based on you having the information that you’ll need from the other side. Yes, you can do your homework to make sure that you arrive with as much information as possible; however, you are still going to have to collect more information from the other side.

When the negotiation starts, you need to be careful to not come to the table with preexisting conclusions about the other side or what they want to get out of the negotiations. Additionally, you need to understand that how the other side chooses to start the negotiation may not reflect what they really want to get out of the negotiations. You need to keep an open mind and ask a lot of questions. Trust is a critical part of any negotiated agreement. It is your responsibility to take steps to build this trust.

Since we all want to walk away from the negotiating table with the agreement that will meet our needs, it sure seems to make sense to find ways to gather as much information about the other side that we can. The better the information that you can gather, the better an agreement you will be able to reach.

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

Question For You: If the opening position of the other side is outlandish, do you think that you should react or let it go?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m all about doing my homework before I start a negotiation. I’ll have a talk with Google, call up people that the other side of the table have negotiated with in the past, and I’ll study the issues that we’ll be discussing. However, no matter how good of a job that I do in preparing for a negotiation, I fully realize that when the negotiations start, I won’t know everything that I need to know no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques I plan on using.. What this means is that I’m going to have to find some way to get the additional information that I need out of the other side during the negotiation. Exactly how to go about doing this is an art into itself…