The Negotiator Magazine

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If you're thinking of buying a used piece of equipment, have your driver or equipment supervisor meet with his counterpart at the seller's company.

If you're thinking of buying another company, have your controller take their bookkeeper out to lunch.

You can take an engineer from your company with you to visit another company and let your engineer mix with their engineers. You'll find out that unlike top management-the level at which you may be negotiating-engineers have a common bond that spreads throughout their profession, rather than just a vertical loyalty to the company for which they currently work. So all kinds of information will pass between these two.

Naturally, you have to watch out that your person doesn't give away information that could be damaging to you. So be sure you pick the right person. Caution her carefully about what you're willing to tell the other side and what you're not willing to tell-the difference between the open agenda and your hidden agenda. Then let her go to it, challenging her to see how much she can find out. Peer-group information gathering is very effective.

Power Negotiators always accept complete responsibility for what happens in the negotiations. Poor negotiators blame the other side for the way they conducted themselves. Many years ago, I was conducting a negotiating seminar in the San Fernando Valley, and comedian Slappy White was in the audience. During the break, I told him how much I admired comedians. "It must be fun to be successful like you," I told him, "but coming up through those comedy clubs with all their hostile audiences must be sheer hell."

"Roger," he told me, "I've never had a bad audience."

"Oh, come on, Slappy," I replied, "When you were starting out, you must have had some awful audiences."

"I've never had a bad audience," he repeated. "I've only had audiences that I didn't know enough about."

As a professional speaker, I accept that there is no such thing as a bad audience, there are only audiences about whom the speaker doesn't know enough. I've built my reputation on the planning and research that I do before I'll get up in front of an audience.

As a negotiator, I accept that there's no such thing as a bad negotiation. There are only negotiations in which we don't know enough about the other side. Information gathering is the most important thing we can do to assure that the negotiations go smoothly.

Roger Dawson, CSP, CPAE is one of North America’s top negotiating experts and a leading sales and management speaker. He is the author of "Secrets of Power Negotiating" which is one of the biggest selling audiocassette programs ever published. His latest book "Power Negotiating for Salespeople" is now in bookstores and a must read for Realtors®.

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