Give the other party time to tell you more. Observe them quietly.

While listening, be aware of your own fears or concerns during the negotiation and how they might affect your perception and judgment. Here are a few examples:

• Cognitive bias

Do you have positive or negative perceptions of the profession, industry and person you are negotiating with?

Are they justified or based on past experience?

• Framing effects

The person will obviously be trying to frame his or her offer in an attractive way. How would it look through another frame under different conditions?

• Contrast principle

We tend to compare the second thing we hear with the first thing we hear. In negotiation, you can fall into this trap by comparing what the person is offering now to what he or she offered in the first place.

• Loss aversion

We fear giving away too much, but we also fear losing the deal. What is your greatest fear and how might this influence what you offer?


Ensure you have the same understanding as what the person is trying to communicate. Paraphrasing prevents misunderstanding.


Thank him or her for insights shared, especially those that help you to better understand his or her interests in the negotiation.


A good question contains an incentive for the other party to give you a full answer. Otherwise, he or she will only give you the minimum amount of information.


Understanding the other person’s feelings is essential for reaching a win-win agreement.

Clever communicators probe feelings before the offer is put on the table. For example, "I’m not trying to lock you in, but how would you feel if we looked at this?”


The more you can understand the person, the better your negotiation with him or her. Dig deeper and look broader.

Article by Kevin Ryan, managing director of Training Edge Australia and an international speaker, workshop leader and author with Training Edge International.

The is an excerpt of an article that was first published in The Straits Times Recruit.