Stage 2 is the Information Exchange step in the framework. While the overriding goal of this stage is to build trust, there are several other goals to be accomplished as well. But most important will be the sub-text that emerges, or what is revealed by the way in which each side engages during the Exchange stage of a negotiation. This sub-text frames the relationship and the level of trust established between the parties.
Six goals to accomplish in the Exchange Stage:
- Develop rapport.
- Learn their interests, authority level and BATNAs.
- Assess trustworthiness, competency, likeability and alignment of interests.
- Fill in the knowledge gaps.
- Make a Go/No-Go decision.
- Negotiate the agenda.
How you go about Exchange will significantly impact the strength of your relationship and the level of trust you reach with the other side.
With a high level of trust, you will be given better access to the other side's interests and begin to see the opportunities for value creation. Information Exchange is sometimes the most fun stage because it's all about getting to know the other side and testing your assumptions prior to bargaining. Many times you discover new information during this time that changes your MDO, Goal and LAA. The information you gather about the other side – including substantive business or legal information, personal information, cultural awareness – can unlock many opportunities for additional creative solutions. This lays the needed groundwork to capture that value in the Bargaining Stage.