Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

3.4. Questions are asked to build common ground and establish the existence of any hidden agendas.

ryanrori January 7, 2021

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The common ground phase of negotiation can possibly the called the most crucial phase of the talks.

  • “why are we here?”
  • “what do we agree on?”
  • “what is still keeping us apart?”

These are possibly some of the most important questions to be asked at the beginning of the talks. The perception of power can cause many imbalances and individuals or teams can be led to expect the other side to act in preconceived ways.

A negotiator can by-pass this important phase of the process, although this will be the toughest part.  Negotiating the correct framing of the problem (the reason for him being there) and the perception that  “they are equals” (parity) could lay the foundation for reaching agreement that will create value to all parties concerned.

Shared interests, opportunities for cooperation and common principles are identified in order to facilitate negotiation. 

When it is your turn to listen, do so actively. Listening is not just being polite — there are many reasons why you should listen, especially in a negotiation. Showing respect and interest will get them to give you more information, and in a negotiation information really is power. The first stage of listening is, basically, to listen without interruption. The only interaction you have with them is active listening methods that encourage them to talk. You can pause them to paraphrase back what you have heard and you can ask them for clarification, but keep such interruptions to a minimum. This can be a difficult period, especially when you are longing to respond to some of the things they are saying. But hold your horses — if you dive off into a debate, you will miss what may well be very useful information.