Nosce te ipsum (Know yourself).
This phrase, inscribed above the entrance to the ancient temple of Apollo at Delphi, captures a core injunction for negotiators.
Know Your Interests.
In their well known negotiation model, Fisher and Ury – and the vast majority of proponents of joint, mutual gains, cooperative bargaining models – suggest that ideal negotiation involves the identification of the interests of each party, a search for options that will best satisfy those interests, and consideration of alternatives to any proposed deal in light of those interests. At the outset, in order to be effective, a good negotiator must be familiar with the interests that he represents – of himself, his group or his principals. Before starting any negotiation, it is useful to be clear on what one needs, and to give thought to how best one might satisfy those needs. “What do we need? What are we trying to accomplish?” should be expressly asked in advance. Are we trying to maintain a client base? Trying to avoid damage to good will or a reputation? In a labor context, are we trying to stay within budget in light of other material costs; increase productivity; cut down on health costs; improve our risk picture for experience rating by insurers; improve morale? Knowing the needs can direct the strategy and also can keep one alert to opportunities that might arise in the course of negotiations.