The skill of asking good questions is a major goal of negotiations training. When you sit down to a negotiating table you need to ask lots of questions as this helps both parties uncover the other's wants, needs and goals. Asking questions also leads the parties to better understand the feelings and styles of the other party. Additionally, questions help clarify the statements a party makes to the other and shows their understanding of the issues in the negotiations. Moreover, asking questions allows you to move the negotiation in the direction you want it to go in.
First, effectively asking questions is one of the most important skills a negotiator learns in negotiations training. This is partly so because asking questions skillfully helps both parties uncover the other's wants, needs and goals. It is necessary for each party to at least have an idea of the negotiating goals of the other party so the thing given will be what the negotiator wants.
If a person sits at the table and asks for something that is not attainable the other person has no choice but to say, "No, you are not going to get that." But if the person knows the counter-party's wants, needs and goals the person can at least offer some concession, some compromise that will effectively meet the needs of the counter-party, as taught in negotiations training. Suppose a woman is asking for a raise at her job. If the supervisor has many people working under her management she may know little of the person asking for the raise.
However, if after a little conversation and some well-aimed questions the manager may say no to the raise, but offer to let the woman get off earlier so she can pick up her child from day care. Here the thing initially sought, the raise, was not attainable, yet getting off early was something the woman needed and could, therefore, be an effective compromise solution as taught in negotiations training.
Second, asking questions also leads the parties to better understand the feelings and styles of the other party. It may have been outrageous for the manager to suggest that the woman asking for a raise get off early. After all, that could mean fewer hours and therefore less pay, not more. If the woman needed the money or she would not be able to feed her family the suggestion of more time off could be a deal killer. The woman would that night be on the phone trying to find another job. A costly mistake for the manager. Ask questions and actively listen. Try to dig deeper than the surface answer given so as to understand the feelings of the other party, as taught in negotiations training.
Thirdly, questions help clarify the statements a party makes to the other and shows their understanding of the issues, as taught in negotiations training. Asking what a person means is often the best way to learn why they said what they said, not just what they said. If your counter-party does not understand why you are negotiating with them it could be difficult to get what you want. When the other person does not understand the issue and the effects of it you will have a hard time moving them to your way of thinking.
Fourth, asking questions allows you to direct the negotiations along the path you want them to take. Asking your questions makes the counter-party think about your side of the issue, even if in disagreement. If your arguments are reason-based and you have prepared your negotiation efforts you can make a compelling case that the person should do as you want, as taught in negotiations training. Correct reasoning will not always win the day, but it frequently will. Most people will listen to you, even if they do not want to change, if you can persuade their version of the issue is error and you are basing your version on verifiable facts.