Everyone wants to make a good impression. In some instances, we go as far as to put on a carefully curated positive version of themselves.
Think of your online dating profile (if you don’t have one, use your imagination.) You choose the most impressive things to share, and you share with an intention. You share enough information to make yourself sound intriguing, but not so much so that you scare off or intimidate potential dates. If underwater basket weaving is one of the most important things in your life and you need someone who supports it, you want that information to be right out in the open because you have that single, clear goal: find a date or mate that supports your passion.
According to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, around 81% of people misrepresent their height, weight, or age in their dating profiles. Although these exaggerations tend to be little ones because people will eventually meet face-to-face, they’re still made to bolster an impression.
In a time where everyone is so meticulous about things such as their dating profile, it’s worth asking whether we’re giving the same careful consideration to our negotiations. Are we strategically revealing information with intention, or are we going in willy nilly and hoping something positive about our value proposition sticks.
When it comes to your negotiations, what are you withholding and what are you exaggerating?
Two common mistakes when deciding how much to share
Much like a dating profile, your strategy should have a single clear goal: to advance your negotiation or close a deal. However, there are two common mistakes many negotiators make:
- You share too much in an effort to be transparent and end up damaging your position. Most negotiations sway heavily into the “oversharing” part of the spectrum. You may share too much because you want recognition, or you want others to know that you have put significant effort into forming your position. We get excited and want to lay it all out there, only to bombard the other party with too much information that they either get overloaded and fatigued, start viewing the negotiation as much more complex than originally thought, or start to assume there is something disadvantageous behind the overflow of information.
- You withhold too much information to try to be strategic, leaving creative ideas off the table. If you’re afraid that you’ll accidentally give something away that will damage your position, you end up damaging your position regardless by not communicating enough. Don’t avoid sharing creative ideas with your long-term partners as these ideas could be the ticket to new creative solutions you wouldn’t have come up with on your own.
The Super-power of Data
Data is powerful. Want proof? Look up “Data Analytics” to read about one of the fastest-growing sectors in business today. Data Analytics is essentially the art of finding patterns, connections, trends, and customer preferences that can be used to make more intelligent business decisions (ie. make more money.)
Although business leaders are always looking for the best information to help them make the most suitable decisions, the influence of shared information is often miscalculated in negotiations. Ask yourself:
- How will the other party respond to the information you’re about to share? Understanding how the other party might respond to what you plan to say gives you the advantage of coming up with objections and other valid points. If the information may be difficult for the other party to hear, such as a change in price or delivery time, you should be prepared for an unfavorable, antagonistic, or emotional reaction. Remember, you can still be empathetic without backing down.
- Is the information relevant? When you’re looking to partner with someone long-term, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not sharing relevant information with them. However, the flow of information should be done strategically within the negotiation. Think of this as slowly opening the curtain to reveal the inner workings of previously obscured mechanics.
Let’s think back to the 81% of people who misrepresent a certain quality in their online dating profiles. While there is a degree of exaggeration that is somewhat acceptable or expected in online dating, you can’t exactly misrepresent the fundamentals of a business contract and partnership.
Remember, you’re in the relationship for the long-haul. This is why you must curate the most relevant information for your partners so they can make whatever decisions benefit the both of you. This develops cooperation in your long-term strategic relationships and can help you meet your goals together.
At RED BEAR, we’re experts at creating targeted negotiation strategies that can help organizations across industries gain a consistent, tangible advantage. To learn more about our approach to helping you and your team develop sharp and effective situational negotiation skills, click here.