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Researching the Other Side


Disciplines > Negotiation > Activities > Researching the Other Side

Drivers | Outcomes | Strategies | .See also


Understanding the other side and what they may want and do can be a difficult and long task. When the negotiation is significant, it is worth spending the time required to dig into what they might want and do.

This may be done both before the negotiation, during the preparation, and also during the actual negotiation itself, where you may test and revise your theories about them.

Note also that anything you might ask of the other side you should also know about yourself (and vice versa).


Before the people on the other side even start to consider the negotiation, they have a significant layers of drivers that motivate them. Although you may not be able to understand all of these, it is worth seeking to understand the

Personal drivers

There are a number of deep drivers that motivate people. You can discover these by asking questions such as:

Organizational drivers

The organization may also have a number of forces acting on it that you may discover by asking pertinent questions.

  • What is the basic organizational culture?
  • What are the dynamics of growth, stability or decline in their marketplace?
  • What is the nature of competition for them?
  • What has their market been like historically that may lead to current behaviors?
  • What are their organizational vision, mission, strategy and goals?

You can also research significantly into all parts of the organization. A well-prepared negotiator will surprise the other side with knowledge of their company.


The outcomes are the results of the negotiation that the other side might want. You may know this and you may think you know it and be wrong.

There are four types of outcome that may be sought from you:

  • Material: They may want physical things that you have.
  • Information: They may want knowledge that you hold or control.
  • Action: They may want you to do something for them.
  • Agreement: They may seek to get you to agree or otherwise change your mind about something.


You may also consider what approaches they may use to various stages in the negotiation.

When you understand the organization and the people, you may be able to guess at some of these strategies, especially if you or a colleague have dealt with them before.

Persuasion strategy

Consider the general strategies that they may use to persuade you. For example:

  • Will they be generally collaborative or competitive?
  • When putting forward ideas, how will they make them seem attractive to you?
  • How will they likely respond to your positions and offers?

Concession strategy

An important thing to understand is how they will concede.

  • Will this be slowly and with significant argument between each concession?
  • Will they cave into pressure and concede in large amounts?
  • Is there something special that can be exchanged for a large concession?

It is also useful to identify their zone of agreement and hence the range across which they may concede.

Closing strategy

How might they seek to close the agreement? Will they be direct or deceptive? Will they seek to coerce or collaborate? How will you respond to their methods? Will they object to the closing methods that you use?

See also

Stakeholders in change


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