In a recent New York Times article compiling consumer dispute resolution tips submitted by readers, a frequent suggestion was to simply ask, “What would you do if you were in my situation?” The contributors reported this typically led to the sharing of helpful information about how to get the desired result.
This simple question illustrates the usage of three important information-related negotiation tactics. First, having to address this question helps your counterpart better appreciate your situation and step into your shoes, thus leading to a more thorough understanding of your interests and needs. Second, research shows effective negotiators ask twice as many questions as average negotiators. Most also, like with this question, design their questions to elicit strategically valuable information. And third, effective negotiators don’t just ask questions – they carefully listen to and evaluate the responses.
So when preparing for your next negotiation, make the time to think about questions to ask your counterpart, ask them and closely listen to the responses. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what and how much you are able to find out.