I was giving training last week for an agency on effective team communication and negotiation.  During the training I was emphasizing the importance of drawing as much information as possible from the other party before setting out our own perspective.  I was asked a very interesting question by one of the attendees of the training.  The question was asked if the point of this approach was to somehow gain an advantage over the other side by having them put their cards on the table first!  Of course the purpose of this approach is quite the opposite.  The purpose of truly understanding the other party’s perspective first is because then and only then do we really have enough information to decide how we are best going to approach the outstanding issues and then work together to formulate a solution that addresses both our needs to move things forward.