Ask Alignor

Will I be giving too much away if I disclose my needs or interests?

One of the misconceptions about interest-based negotiation is that it is somehow “soft” or touchy-feely and leaves negotiators open to exploitation by “tougher” negotiators. This misconception can lead to concerns about “giving away too much information.” Most of the time, you will actually increase your ability to satisfy your interests if you share with other negotiators what your true interests are. There are two general exceptions to this rule, however. The first is trade secrets and other truly confidential information that should not be disclosed for reasons beyond the negotiation, such as for legal reasons. The second exception to the general rule favoring disclosure is information that may so increase your counterparts’ perception of their leverage that they will become less likely to negotiate an acceptable deal with you or they will use their newly perceived leverage to force you to accept an inferior deal. Of course this can be a difficult judgment call. For example, if you need to do a deal very quickly, are you better off disclosing this so that your counterparts will work with you to meet your need for speed? Or will your counterparts use this information to slow things down in an attempt to use their new leverage to obtain concessions from you? These are difficult choices that must be made on a case-by-case basis.