Knowledge and information determine power in negotiation. The surprising thing is that much of what you need to know is not too hard to get if you determine in advance what you want to know and where to look for it.  What follows are some relatively simple questions that a negotiator should try to answer before talks begin or are in progress.

  1. Who makes the decisions in the other person’s organization? How does the other fit in with his or her associates?
  2. Is there a patter as to how they negotiate? How do they reach compromise positions? Are they people who tend to hold fast to positions, then give in all at once?
  3. Do they live up to and abide by their agreements or renegotiate everything shortly afterward?
  4. What do I know of their personal life that might be useful in forming a bond?
  5. What are the time and work pressures that make their jobs difficult? How can I help relieve their pressures?
  6. Why is this negotiation important to them? How are they appraised or judged by those higher in their organization?
  7. How can I best make them amenable to working together with us to find a better outcome for both parties?

Now, more than ever, knowledge is power. The answers to these questions can often be learned directly from the other party if asked during lunch or casual, non-threatening conversation before difficulties arise.  Some can be learned from associates who wish to reduce the level of dysfunction associated with unresolved disagreement.  And, in today’s exciting technological and information world, further information can be found on the internet with Google searches and applications that focus on what we want to know.

What we need to know in internal negotiations is information that will help us make an equitable settlement, we don’t need prurient or personal bits of knowledge to manipulate or force agreement. The key to success in workplace negotiations lies in maintaining and building better relationships as a creative Both-Win agreement is bridged.

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