Negotiating Tip 81: Hidden Agenda

Written by John Hamilton Posted On Sunday, 07 March 2021 00:00

Everyone has, or should have, a hidden agenda!

What one ingredient is present in virtually all negotiations?  It is that both parties conceal certain facts, motivations or circumstances from their opponent

It's how the negotiating game is played.  It's okay.  It's acceptable and normal.  We call it the "Hidden Agenda".

I'm convinced the difference between average and good negotiators is their thinking on and ability to deal with this hidden agenda.

So what should we keep in mind with regard to this hidden agenda? Here's a partial list.

• Good negotiators recognize that, like themselves, their opponent also has a hidden agenda.

• Good negotiators say very little that would expose or reveal their hidden agenda.

• Good negotiators conceal the degree of interest they have in any item being negotiated.

• Good negotiators probe and question their opponent to learn of their hidden agenda.

• Good negotiators recognize that an opponent's hidden agenda isn't an insult.  It isn't a devious ploy or a sign of deception.  It's simply negotiating as it should be.

• Good negotiators recognize that their opponent has pressures to put a deal together that might never be exposed.  Know that they're there as part of that hidden agenda. 

• Good negotiators learn to read signals (facial expressions, body language, pace, concession pattern, etc.) from their opponent that tends to reveal part of their hidden agenda.


Handling the hidden agenda makes life interesting as we KEEP Negotiating. 

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