We all possess ulterior motives and personal goals that exist just out of sight. During a negotiation, this can quickly derail and stall the negotiation if not detected and dealt with early. If everyone has an agenda, how do you begin to identify these hidden motivations? Read on to discover the 5 steps for uncovering hidden agendas in negotiations and help position yourself to achieve your goals in a mutually successful way.
What is a hidden agenda?
A hidden agenda is not a bad thing – great leaders have a sense of mission that informs their life and decisions. We all have this type of internal motivation. Sometimes this might simply be an intense competitive streak, or, perhaps, the organization you are negotiating with is rife with politics. Having an understanding of precisely what you are dealing with is essential to being successful in negotiations.
How to uncover hidden agendas during a negotiation
Here are some tips to help identify hidden agendas in negotiations:
1. Ask questions
Asking questions and listening is one of the best methods for gauging the other parties needs and wants. Try to keep the questions open-ended; otherwise, you risk indirectly telling the other person the answer you’d like to hear. The fact is, good negotiators, say very little to avoid exposing their real agenda. However, be aware that negotiators may opt to conceal their actual level of interest on certain subjects, which leads nicely to our next point – non-verbal communication.
2. Non-verbal communication
Much of our communication is non-verbal, making observing body language a key component to effective negotiation. In some ways, negotiation is a quest for the truth. That’s why properly engaging with the people you are negotiating with and doing what you have to do to have a productive dialogue is essential for success. However, be aware that everyone produces unintentional facial expressions – wrinkling their forehead and frowning are always the worst offenders in negotiations. What’s more, when they do this, they’re communicating an emotional state that signals the need for survival. So to ensure you uncover those hidden agendas with ease, always remember to keep your chin high and your eyes level to convey positivity and eagerness. Lastly, nod and smile in agreement wherever possible.
3. Question their answers
This can clarify points and provide much-needed context to what is being said.
4. Be a journalist
A good reporter asks follow-up questions to gain details. You also can double-check information and see if there are contradictions in their answers.
5. Internalise the responses.
You have to gain an understanding of the other person’s perspective. Understanding their answer is essential to empathize with their point of view – even if you don’t agree with them.
Negotiation Skills Training
Profit, relationships and deals are won or lost during the negotiation process. When successful negotiators arrive armed with the tools and skills needed to negotiate effectively, desired outcomes are optimised, and loss of profit is avoided. The thing is, when it comes to negotiations, profits and closed deals aren’t the only desired outcome. That’s where our Negotiation Skills Training comes in.
Preservation of the relationship is also crucial to ensure long term business opportunities and negative feelings aren’t harboured.
Sales professionals, procurement departments, and business leaders must learn how to navigate effective negotiations that positively impact both parties and inspire future business.