BEST NEGOTIATING TIP 1004
Animals may feint and bluff but they don't lie or bend the truth for their own purposes. That is a quality unique to man. In negotiations, therefore, it is important to be able to discern truth from fiction.
One common deception in a negotiation comes in the form of the agendas people are pursuing. There are two types of agendas: the public agenda and hidden or private agendas. These agendas may differ substantially or be very similar. In essence the public agenda is the image the person wants to portray to reinforce the PR he or she is promoting. We see a lot of this in Washington; people who say one thing loudly to the television cameras and do another quietly behind closed doors.
In a meeting presenting a printed agenda allows you to control the basic direction of the meeting. It also enables you to make sure points important to you are covered. I have attended too many meetings where there is no formal agenda and everyone is working off a personal agenda. The problem in these types of meetings is that it is easy to get off course or spend too much time one one issue rather than on more important issues.
Take the initiative. By taking the time to prepare an agenda you are gaining a leadership advantage. I find it easy to call ahead and tell the person's assistant that I will be bringing an agenda. As they, the assistants, are almost always busy, they usually welcome this as a means of having less to do. After all, they are paid by the hour and not by the project. Little do they realize just how much power they are giving to you.
Hidden agendas, on the other hand, are what negotiators use to manage the process from an informal position. There are two types of hidden agendas.
The first is the innocuous list of issues you want to discreetly clarify before getting to the 'main event'. Your hidden agenda items of this caliber might include assumptions that need to be validated, facts that need to be reaffirmed, or positions that must be challenged. As the meeting unfolds you should be looking for subtle opportunities to slip in your hidden agenda item.
The second type of hidden agenda is where one or more o fthe participants is actually waging a separate and distinct war from the issue at hand and may be using this situation to advance his or her other cause. There may be many hidden agendas at play around any negotiating table or even on the playground.
For example, if you are negotiating with a bank lender you may not know that he is under significant pressure to make more loans. His job or bonus may be at risk. That issue may be more important that the interest rate or amortization schedule you and he are fighting over. His real reason for talking with you is to write the loan; not tighten the deal. If you know he has this overriding pressure to make the loan, you are in a fine position to demand greater concessions from him.
On the other hand, if you are negotiating to acquire something you need to know if the other person's true agenda is to flush out your best offer and use it against a competitive bidder.
Uncovering hidden agendas is an important aspect in any negotiation or mediation. It may be the hidden agendas that truly impact end result.