Rarely do negotiations just happen. Instead, they are planned well in advance and you’ve got plenty of time to get ready to participate in them and to deal with all of the different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that you’ll encounter. What this means for you as a negotiator is that you need to make use of the (limited) time that you have in order to show up well prepared for the negotiation. Great concept, but just exactly how are we supposed to go about doing this?
What Is Actual Knowledge?
There are two things that you need to know about before you enter into your next negotiation: the issue(s) that will be negotiated and the people who will be doing the negotiating. When you walk into the negotiation, you want to show up with well-organized research and facts that you’ll be able to use to back up your position.
The people who will be doing the negotiating for the other side are almost as important as the topics that will be negotiated. As a negotiator you need to know their strengths, their weaknesses, and even such seemingly insignificant things such as where they went to school, their marital status, and if they have any children. Every small piece of information that you can learn may be valuable later on even if it seems insignificant right now.
All of this information can be considered to be part of your actual knowledge. What you are going to find is that a great deal of this knowledge comes in the form of statistics or averages. These may not pertain to the specific circumstance that you are negotiating about. You need to be careful when you come across information like this and you need to determine if you want to adopt it.
Where Does Knowledge Come From?
Knowing that you want to gather as much knowledge as possible is one thing, knowing where to get that knowledge is another thing. It turns out that there are three main sources for the actual knowledge that we use in the course of a negotiation:
- Your Experiences: If you have knowledge about what is going to be negotiated, then you should rely on your own experiences. If there are gaps in your experience, then reach out and contact the people and the sources that can be used to fill in your gaps.
- Outside Professionals: There is no way that any of us can be an expert in every area. No matter if the issue has to do with accounting, the law, investing, or something else, when you don’t know something, you need to reach out and get help. Don’t be bashful, we all have to have help at times.
- Use Your Team: It can be all too easy to get caught up in the limitations and restrictions that have been placed on us by the firm that we are negotiating for. What we need to remember at the same time is that because we are part of a larger organization, we have other people that we can reach out to in order to get assistance with the current negotiation. Make sure that you keep your team informed about the negotiations – all too often negotiations fail because of people on our team, not because of the other side.
What Does All Of This Mean For You?
Hopefully we can all agree that in a principled negotiation, knowledge is power. One of the most valuable forms of knowledge is actual knowledge – this is everything that you’ve been able to learn about the issue to be negotiated and the people who will be doing the negotiating.
One of the most important things that you need to be aware of is that statistics and averages can result in misleading knowledge. Something that is generally true may not pertain to what you are going to be negotiating. Actual knowledge can come from any one of a number of different sources including your own experience, outside professionals, and any necessary parties on your side.
The more you know, the stronger your negotiating position will be. Taking the time to carefully gather actual knowledge will ensure that the information that you have is accurate and useful for the negotiations that you will be involved in. Do your homework and make sure that you start your next negotiation well prepared!
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: What’s the best way to check statistics in order to see if they relate to your negotiation?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
I wish that I could tell you that I know everything that has to be known in this world. However, the truth is that I actually know very little when you consider all that there is to know. What this means is that when I walk into a negotiation, I’m really at a bit of a disadvantage – there are things about the negotiation that I don’t know. What can I do to turn this disadvantage into an advantage for me?