Understanding the best negotiation techniques are just part of becoming a skilled negotiator. You also need to recognise the best behaviours used by top negotiators and avoid the worst behaviours used by average negotiators.
The most successful negotiators know how to find out information and also share information in order to develop trust and rapport with the counterparty. It is one of the hardest techniques to learn in negotiation skills. It’s not just about asking questions – it’s about when and how to gather and share information.
We think we know how to ask questions and bombard the poor counterparty with them at the start of the negotiation and we typically hate giving any information away. In fact, we believe information is power and so hold it close to our chests and focus on what we cannot say rather than what we can.
Information gathering can sometimes feel like an interrogation by the counterparty. The counterparty immediately feels defensive and puts up barriers, both physical and mental, against the attack. They are on their guard and less likely to reveal any information to you. You need to think more about trading questions in order to share information.
You need to work out, before you go into the negotiation, what information you can give to the counterparty – information that could be of value to them and doesn’t hurt you to reveal. When you are seen to be open and constructive, the counterparty is more likely to feel less threatened and is able to offer some answers to your questions and maybe some of their own information. By controlling information in this way, you are driving the negotiation forwards. And that’s what we look for in senior negotiators – the ability to develop rapport, pinpoint the key drivers and recognise how and when to put a deal together.
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