What is highly visible in most negotiations, the other negotiator’s positions or demands? However, it’s what’s invisible, the underlying needs, goals, fears and concerns that are driving the other negotiator’s demands that often gets in the way of achieving the best negotiation results. The name for these underlying needs, goals, fears and concern’s is, interests. The other negotiator is unlikely to share their real interests for fear of looking weak or being taken advantage of or because they aren’t even clear on what their concerns are.
It takes three things to make the invisible, visible in negotiation:
1. Deep listening – if you listen not just to the words, but to the tone, the pace, the sequence and the emotion underlying of what’s being said, you can learn everything you need to know about their priorities, fears, and concerns.
2. Patience and a set of broad open ended questions. Asking questions like:
This takes time, but it not only gives you the data to craft an optimal agreement or outcome, it builds trust and candor with the other negotiator.
3. Modeling the behavior you want from the other negotiator, clarity about and a willingness to share your underlying goals, needs fears and concerns. Sharing what is important to you enables the other negotiator to understand why some of the demands or options he/she put on the table are unattractive to you.
Ultimately these three practices will save you time, and enable you to craft optimal agreements, while promoting a working relationship based on trust, candor and mutual respect.