In a negotiation, there’s always more than one issue at stake. Even if you think it’s just price — for example, I want to buy a pre-owned car for the lowest possible price — there’s always at least one additional factor at play. In this case, time is also at stake. Am I going to pay in full right now, or am I going to pay in monthly installments? Once you get the hang of digging deeper to uncover all the issues in a negotiation, you can put together a better strategy.
There’s one type of issue in particular that can be a gold mine, if you know how to find it. It’s an issue where both parties want the same thing.
If you’re thinking, “that sounds too good to be true,” or “that’s impossible,” or even “can’t I just check that one off the list and move on?” — stick with me.
Imagine you’re interviewing for a job with a large company, and they have offices in multiple locations. Things are going well, and you realize they may want you to spend your first year at the headquarters, which is in a different city. What they don’t know is that you have family in that city and you are actually quite open to moving there.
The key is to figure out that you both want the same thing — for you to move to the city where the company is headquartered — before they do.
Since you’re not a mind reader, you may be wondering how you would pull this off and what you would do with that information once you had it. The good news is, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
First, check in with your mindset. Try to approach the interview from a place of creative problem solving, rather than one of “please hire me.” Remember that it takes (at least) two to make a deal, and they need you as much as you need them. When you’re planning your negotiation strategy, write down a list of all the issues that could be at stake. That goes beyond simply salary and start date. If you’re stuck, I’ve written about things you can negotiate for that aren’t money.
Now set your list aside and step into their shoes. What issues would be on their list, and how would they rank in order of importance? You won’t have all the answers, but that’s ok because your goal is to figure out what questions to ask to learn about their perspective and priorities.
Use your interviews as an opportunity to ask questions and fill in the gaps in your list of issues and priorities. When you suspect you’ve found a shared goal, you can proceed one of two ways.
If you need to build a stronger rapport, or perhaps if you’re lucky and they’ve already been very generous, you could “concede” the issue by saying it’s a happy coincidence. This is not the same thing as just giving in. You are making a thoughtful choice about how appearing to give in on this issue benefits you in the larger context of your negotiation and in the workplace.
Your other option is to ask for something in exchange for the issue: “You need me to move to another city? In that case, I would like to discuss some additional factors.” This could be negotiating for an advance trip to the new location with your spouse to look for housing, time off in between jobs, a relocation bonus, or something else that would help you have a smooth transition and start out strong.
To have more success in negotiating, make it a habit to step outside your own perspective. Ask questions and actively listen to learn about their wants and needs, then look for creative ways to reach an agreement that works for everyone.
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals