Knowing priorities means having a good understanding of what you want from the negotiation. You also need to know what the other party wants. Understanding your principles, both as a negotiator and as an individual, will help you to form and present a case that is compelling and believable. Understanding the principles of the other party can also be very helpful to you. A little more research can help you to understand what the organization’s beliefs are, how they have approached previous negotiations, what terms seem to be more important to them than others, and what terms they could be willing to be flexible with.
Some things you can explore about the negotiator:
- What is their business about?
- What are their competitors like?
- What is their stock like?
- What associations does the person belong to?
- What people do you both know?
- What hobbies does the person have?
Also, people are predictable. If you have worked with the person you are negotiating with, what has he done before? What strategies did he use? Or, what can other people who know this person tell you about him? Has he written anything that can give you clues?
Finally, consider who the person reports to. Who are the real decision makers in this negotiation? How can you help your negotiating partner meet his needs as well as those of his bosses?