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  • Guy Johnson

Are you ready to negotiate from inside their head?

When we negotiate, we are often looking to reach an agreement that will primarily look after our own interests. We negotiate with another party because some of these interests differ from theirs, and it is this misalignment which we seek to resolve.

So far so straightforward…

So it would stand to reason that, as we prepare for a negotiation, we should carefully consider our own situation, our needs and our desired outcomes.

  • What do we need to achieve from these talks? 

  • What risks are we looking to mitigate through this prospective agreement? 

  • Personally, what will it mean for us if this deal goes right or wrong..?

These are of course important considerations and form key elements of the critical planning and preparation stage of negotiation.

However, when we negotiate, we deal so with people, not companies or organisations. And these people bring with them their own set of circumstances, challenges, needs and risks.

What if you were able to gain a window into the minds of your negotiation counterparts. What if you were able to negotiate from inside their head?

Developing an accurate understanding of, not only the commercial needs of the other party, but of them as people, their personal challenges, motivations and behaviours is invaluable. It is this intelligence which allows us to negotiate effectively and efficiently to maximise the deal, reconciling each party's different interests.

So, how do you get inside their head?

The information gathering stage of negotiation is where this picture is built. Through information collection across online research, data collection, face to face contact and discussions throughout your network, you can gain a window into the mind of your counterpart. As you collect each new data point and triangulate it with others, you will surprise yourself at the level of insight into you can achieve. With the proliferation of online information in addition to more traditional methods, it has never been easier to find out about the people and organisations you are dealing with.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I clearly understand what is important to the other party?

  • Do I understand what it means for them if this agreement fails?

  • Can I predict the likely behaviours of the contact(s) I am dealing with?

  • Can I anticipate how other party is likely to respond to selected behavioural inputs from me?

  • Can I define my key contact’s personal hierarchy of needs?

If the answer to some of these questions is no, not sure or, I hand’t considered that.. it is highly likely that your negotiation will benefit from additional information gathering, before you begin making proposals.

Your negotiation takes place inside the head of the other party. Unless you understand what is going on in there, you are likely to miss the target. So, take your time, do your homework and see the deal through their eyes from start to finish.

If you are interested to find out more about how to get inside the head of the other party and boost your negotiation outcome, get in touch at

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