The Power Of Knowing When To Ask For Help During A Negotiation

During a negotiation, you need to know when to ask for help
During a negotiation, you need to know when to ask for help

Image Credit: tsaiproject

As negotiators we like to think of ourselves as being “all knowing” and “invincible”. In fact, we’d really like the other side of the table to view us in that way no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. However, the reality is that we really don’t know everything. In fact, not only do we not know everything, but we also probably don’t know everything that we need to know in order to get the best deal out of this negotiation. It sure looks like we need to ask for some help.

Asking For Help

So what are you to do when during your next negotiation you realize that you are in over your head? There can be a lot of different things that lead up to you finding yourself in this situation. The matters being discussed may be of a very technical nature and this is just something that you don’t know a lot about. Or there could be a lot of history behind a number of the issues that are on the table that you are not familiar with. You’re not going to be able to bluff your way through these challenges and hope to be able to get the deal that you want. You clearly need to get some help.

The good news for you is that simply by saying the words “help me”, you can generate a sympatric response from the person who hears you say this. What you need to realize is that it’s the other side of the table that may have the information that you are seeking. They come from a different background than you do. This means that they may have information, knowledge, expertise, or even experiences that you do not possess. What you need to do is to get them to share their knowledge with you and together you’ll be able to create an agreement that both sides will be able to live with.

One of the things that is all too easy to overlook in the heat of a negotiation is what happens after we’ve reached an agreement. with the other side. An agreement is great, but we need them to live up to their side of the bargain. What you need from them is commitment to implement what was agreed to by both sides. This can’t just mean that you get lip service from them, instead you are going to need both their support and their assistance in making your agreement come to life.

The Power Of Getting Help During A Negotiation

I speak from experience when I say that when we enter into a negotiation we can feel as though we are at a disadvantage. There can be a number of different reasons why we feel this way. The simplest is that you feel overwhelmed or overmatched as you size up the other side of the table.

Realizing that we don’t know everything that we need to know in order to be successful in a negotiation is a difficult thing to do. Admitting it and asking the other side for help is even more challenging. There is the classic phrase “Ignorance is bliss”. In all honesty, there is a lot of power in this phrase because when it comes to negotiating it turns out that there is really no reason for you to pretend that you know more than you actually do.

You can communicate to the other side that you don’t have all of the answers in several different ways. The first is to qualify what you say. The next is to take your time answering questions. You need to realize that you don’t always have to answer immediately. This is a learning process, but take the time to teach yourself to pause and ponder the question that which has been asked. At no point in time do you have to be in a hurry to clarify things that are being discussed.

What All Of This Means For You

A big part of our negotiating persona is to be viewed as being the person who knows everything and has all of the answers. However, as we all know, all too often this is not the case. Instead, we realize that we don’t have all of the answers and we need some help.

The power of asking for help is that when we do, the other side will respond. They probably have the answer to the questions that we’d like to ask and since they need us to get comfortable with what is being negotiated in order to reach a deal, they’ll be willing to share their information with us. We can communicate to the other side what we don’t know by answering questions with questions and qualifying what you say.

By no means is it easy to ask for help during a principled negotiation and it is especially not easy to ask for help from the other side of the table. However, it turns out that this can be an especially powerful technique in order to get the other side to share their information with us. Be willing to admit what you don’t know to the other side and then watch them bend over backwards to help make sure that you understand what is being discussed.

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

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we enter a negotiation, all too often we are thinking about what we want to get no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are used. Perhaps what we really should be thinking about is what we are going to be willing to give. What we need to remember is that a negotiation always starts with both sides in their original positions. However, it’s never going to end with both us still in those positions. What needs to happen?