From the start of any negotiation we need to be objective when outlining the issues and while doing so watch closely for non-verbal gestures in an attempt to gauge reaction. If the other side interject, be patient and ‘listen to learn’. Our primary aim at the early stages should be to identify areas of agreement or disagreement.
When the other party is speaking we should NEVER interrupt, listen and look carefully and see if you can gain some insights into their level of knowledge and see how confident, (or fearful) they are. We should be trying to see what they need or want from the negotiation or what is driving or motivating them.
Always focus on what is happening now and where we and they want to go in the future, never get into ‘the last time we met you said’, it is confrontational and a road to no where. At the outset take the initiative and ask the other party to define their current perspective on the issue, remember as in selling, the one who asks the questions controls the discussion.