What Should We Share With The Other Side During A Negotiation?

What we share with the other side can impact our ability to get a deal
What we share with the other side can impact our ability to get a deal
Image Credit: Binny V A

Most negotiators go into a negotiation like a warrior goes into battle. We are ready to take on the other side. We want to believe that we are stronger, better prepared, and will eventually emerge from the negotiation with a better deal than the other side will be able to get. However, what we might be missing is that the other side is not showing up unprepared. They’ve done their homework. They know what we want. What this means is that we are going to have to make a decision. What are we going to be willing to share with the other side in order to get the deal that we’re looking for?

Should We Share During A Negotiation?

Letting the other side know your bottom-line, highest price, or lowest acceptable bid, is an example of the anchoring effect in negotiation and demonstrates the powerful effect of information on your bargaining strategy. However, the prospect of sharing your information with the other side can be scary – 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, the other side might conclude that you’re desperate to make a deal, any deal. There’s also the risk that you may end up giving away privileged information that the other side could use against you. Taking time to conduct a careful analysis of the pros and cons of sharing information in negotiation can help you approach your next negotiation scenario with a greater sense of confidence and security.

How To Share Information During A Negotiation

The first thing that you have to realize is that you don’t want to wait for the other side to open up to you first. We all know that 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. In general, you should feel comfortable revealing information about your interests and what you want to get out of the negotiation, as well as your priorities across the different issues. That doesn’t mean that if there are ten issues on the table, you should reveal that you care about only five of them. Rather, you are going to want to stress that all the issues are important to you, but you’d have a hard time budging on five of them.

When we are entering into a negotiation we need to make sure that we are aware of any information that is required by law. You don’t want to risk serious anchoring effect issues such as getting into hot water by concealing information that you’re legally or ethically required to disclose to the other side. A good example of this is when home sellers may need to reveal known property defects to potential buyers. In order to make sure that you are on top of this requirement you will need to research relevant laws and professional standards before you negotiate.

Every negotiator needs to be aware that not all information is the same. There will be some information that requires “damage control” from us. Think about how a defense attorney questions his client in court about incriminating information before the prosecution can raise the issue. Negotiators need to understand that the best way to handle troubling facts may be to come clean to the other side. For both ethical and strategic reasons, for example, a job applicant who was fired from their previous position would be wise to explain what happened to an interviewer rather than waiting for them to discover it during a reference check.

The final thing that negotiators need to understand is that we now live in the internet age. Information that used to be hard to come by may now be readily available information. These days, information that was difficult to track down once upon a time – including financial and disclosure statements, legal documents, and news reports – could be just a Google search away. When deciding whether to share sensitive information that may be widely available, you will need to assess what would happen if the other side discovered such information on their own.

What All Of This Means For You

The heart of any negotiation is information. What do you know going in, what does the other side know going in, and what will you be willing to share with them? This is one of the biggest questions that every negotiator faces during a negotiation. We know that we don’t want to give too much away to the other side; however, at the same time we know that by sharing information we can get the other side to share with us. How much is just enough and how much is too much?

We need to understand that when we share information with the other side, we may be causing the anchoring effect to come into play during our negotiation. We have to carefully consider everything that we may end up revealing during our next negotiation. Negotiators need to understand that during a negotiation they should not wait to reveal information to the other side. When you reveal something to them, they will feel obligated to reveal things to you. We also have to realize that the law may require us to reveal certain information to the other side. Additionally, now that we live in the internet age a great deal of information may be available to the other side simply by performing an internet search. We need to be aware of this and we may choose to reveal things that we know are publicly available.

Every negotiation is simply a meeting in which information is exchanged. As negotiators, we need to understand this. Additionally, we have to understand that not all information is the same. We will exchange information with the other side, but we need to make sure that we are aware of what information we will be exchanging. We need to do this carefully and we need to have a plan. Make sure that the next time that you negotiate you exchange information in a way that allows you to get the deal that you want.

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

Question For You: How long do you think that you should wait during a negotiation before you stare to share information?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I think that we all realize that negotiating is hard. It turns out that if you are a woman, negotiating is even harder. However, despite these difficulties and uphill challenges, women do negotiate and they do negotiate successfully. The challenge that women face is that in order to be successful negotiators, they need to play by a different set of rules than the men who are negotiating seem to play by. What women need are a set of negotiating skills and negotiation tactics that women negotiators can use to level the playing field in negotiation scenarios.