Far too often negotiators eagerly offer their “solution” at the beginning of a negotiation. Often, the solution is reasonable and the early offer is well-intentioned. In this short video clip, David Zehren explains why negotiatiors should resist the urge to offer solutions too soon.
There’s a great tendency to start out by offering the solution. It’s amazing to me how often negotiators offer a solution within the first two or three minutes of the negotiation. The negotiator intends to be perfectly reasonable. The proposed solution may even be quite good—perhaps because it reflects some sort of compromise and balance. (We’ve talked before about the dangers of offering compromise too soon.)
But the negotiator hasn’t done any discovery yet. They don’t have a real understanding of the other party. In this light, the prematurely offered “solution” is really just a superficial suggestion. By asking more questions—possibly even acting dumb—the negotiator’s understanding of the other party deepens. Deeper understanding helps reveal more sophisticated—and potentially more satisfying— solutions.