It is not an enviable position to be standing accused before the tribal chieftain with the tribe’s ancient inscribed stone scrolls in your backpack.
Negotiation is not always about the facts. Often it is about delivery and arguments. Facts can get lost in the shuffle. It is a good practice to establish your argument and then support it with fact based data contained in short, specific supporting documents.
Showing that you diligently do your homework, a.k.a. prepare thoroughly, you will gain respect even if you don’t win the current negotiation. If nothing else, you will reduce the likelihood of the other person trying to bluff you in the future.
Documenting the facts you are presenting adds credibility to your arguments. They also help you to sell your case and not be put on the defensive explaining the sources of your ‘facts’. People tend to take the written word as more authoritative.
Facts and documentation are not relegated solely to the business or legal arenas. When a teenage son rants about his rights to drive the family car bring out his last report card demonstrating a declining GPA and the agreement the two of you made that he would gain rights to drive if he brought his GPA up. That should effectively refute his claim that he is doing “OK” in school and should be entitled to drive like his friends.
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss the importance of documenting the terms of an agreement.