Situations in which to be careful:
The skillful negotiator is collecting information all the time. One never knows when it will be useful or for which deal but it is very valuable. Collecting this intelligence comes from many sources: Networking events, corporate entertainment, formal dinners, speeches, debates, news interviews, listening while waiting in receptions, conference breakouts, hotels, airport lounges, rail journeys and so on. From many sources one is able to put together a clearer picture regarding goals and priorities for both (all) sides. This is particularly useful in understanding conflicts and the limits beyond which the sides are not prepared to go.
I was sitting in the reception of a conference centre watching and listening a while back. It was interesting to hear the Conference Manager say to a potential customer: “We try to get £150 per day for that particular room”. Oh dear.
It is common to see groups of business people meeting over coffee as they get ready for some meet or other. Quite often one hears them agree the lazy strategy for their meeting: “we’ll listen to what they say and take it from there.” Why wait to be told what they will give you when you can make your own proactive proposition.
It is worth auditing where and how you collect in your negotiating information. If you limit this activity to formal set piece meetings you are limiting your options. Rethink all the opportunities and increase your knowledge and success.
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