The second word that comes to my mind is “experience”.
Experience is in fact a very important aspect in negotiation because the more we master certain practices, the better we can understand which aspects should be clarified, the risks, our preferences, any critical issues, etc.
Experienced people generally know best what they want to do, how to do it, what to avoid and also how to express it. Actually, some typical phrases too general and indicative of a lack of experience are “Do whatever you want!”, “You can touch me but not sexually.”, “Let’s play together but not doing too challenging things.”, etc.
It is therefore good to be as aware as possible of our experience and that of our partner both during negotiation and when it comes to practicing whatever we choose to do.
If, for example, we are both little experienced in both negotiation and practice, it will be wise to proceed with great caution, to give and ask for feedback during the session, to decide on a safeword, etc. On the contrary, sometimes very experienced people can reduce the negotiation to a small number of aspects because they know how to behave while minimizing the risk of accidents.
However, experience also involves some risks.
Experience can be misjudged: some people may believe themselves to be experts just after a limited number of sessions, overestimating their actual level of preparation. This is a typical risk for those who are no longer novices, but do not possess a significant wealth of experience yet.
Then there may be those who are truly experienced, but end up being overconfident and risk underestimating some hazards or neglecting a good negotiation. One of the risks may be to delude ourselves that we can understand our partner’s needs without help, confusing them with our own and ending up doing things that our partner doesn’t want we to do.
Finally, there are those who boast a long-standing experience, when in fact they have been badly practicing for a long time. Others may have had accidents but kept them undisclosed, others have been practicing for years but always with the same partner and are not used to negotiating with strangers, others still have been on the scene for a long time but very rarely practice, and there are also those who play or negotiate badly but have never had any trouble simply because they have been lucky so far.
So beware of false experts: being a professional, well-known, event organiser, community leader, etc. does not guarantee a safe, enjoyable and respectful session. If someone really is such an expert, we can also see it from how they are the first to insist on a good negotiation.
But what if there is a great disparity in experience between the partners?
In this case it may be useful for the (genuinely) more experienced partner to facilitate the other in those aspects of negotiation that they may not be familiar with, ensuring that they have the tools to safely complete a session while trying to avoid technical or consent accidents.