Iceberg Concept of Negotiating

We all know the power of the iceberg—after all it was an iceberg that brought down the fabled Titanic. An iceberg is so powerful because it only seems small on the surface, but underneath and hidden from view is a tremendous mass.

In business negotiations, we usually know right off the top (pun intended) what we are looking at. The other person or group generally needs money, goods and/or services. Those are the issues we are trying to resolve in the negotiation. But what the iceberg theory contends is that the hidden and unspoken issues under the surface can derail a negotiation. Both parties have hidden issues, and you will have more power in a negotiation if you can uncover, and fulfill, some of them.

According to Dr. Chester L. Karrass, writing in “In Business as in Life—You Don’t Get What You Deserve, You Get What You Negotiate,” you should be aware of several hidden issues or wants. These include:

Want to be liked
Want to be perceived as component
Want to be listened
Want to keep their jobs
Want to be treated with dignity
Want tangible recognition
Want to avoid trouble
Want to minimize risk
Want to keep what they already have

These wants are common to most people, but they are not easily fulfilled with material goods. If you do recognize these unspoken needs, you can work to satisfy them.


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Everyday Negotiations In Business and In Life