When you enter the first phase of interaction with your negotiation counterpart you task is to initiate an exchange of information. This process has several positive effects on the whole subsequent negotiation,
First, open communication can set a cooperative and also personal tone.
Second, exchanging information helps both parties define the issues to be discussed and shares each party’s perceptions on those issues.
Third, the parties begin to understand the relative importance of certain issues to both parties and where their interests might best be leveraged.
Where there is a lot at stake this information exchange can become very strategic. If there is not a real relationship between the negotiators, you can except a lot of bluffing and blustering at the beginning. If there is a relationship between the negotiators you should expect a higher level of rapport building.
The information exchange portion of the initial negotiation period ends when one party makes a concrete opening offer (anchor) that requires a counter-offer by the other party.
So, work to establish rapport with the other side. Focus on interests and issues. Listen. Probe and question.