Don’t focus on the money

Information sharing, packaging and flexibility:  Naïve negotiators tend to negotiate issue by issue and attempt to “win” on each issue.  Skilled negotiators create value by prioritizing their issues and trading off low priority for high priority issues.  They recognize that it is important to try to keep all issues on the table to allow for flexibility in trading off issues.  A common mistake for negotiators is to start discussing money too soon.  This tends to be an emotional and contentious issue, and can set up the negotiation as a single issue problem or lead to issue by issue negotiating.  A good way to start sharing information is to identify all of the issues to be negotiated, sharing one issue as being of lesser priority than another and then asking the other party to share a priority as well.  Stating “The warranty length is less important to me than the duration of contract,” and then asking “What about for you?” helps the other party feel more comfortable about opening up.   In contrast, asking “What is your most important issue?” is likely to lead to a vague or untruthful response because the other party is hesitant to reveal such critical information before any trust or reciprocity has been established.  Negotiators who are able to find common ground early in the process are more likely to be able to build trust (Butler, 1999).

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