15 things to know to become an expert negotiator

In a good negotiation, we start keeping in mind every possible scenario and we proceed excluding the hypotheses thanks to every single information we receive.

It is a process of knowledge and attention, for this reason many intelligent people are not good negotiators: they believe they must not discover anything, they think they can proceed while remaining consistent with their initial opinions, and often make mistakes. The big negotiators are open to any possibility, remain intellectually agile and are aware of operating in a fluid situation.

It is essential to know how to listen and fight the cognitive bias (prejudice) that leads us to give weight to any clue that gives consistency to what we think, instead of leaving room for truth. We also need to beat the urge to listen to ourselves: often, during a verbal confrontation, we think about what we are about to say, instead of listening to the other.

On the contrary, one must be focused on what the interlocutor is saying: it is called active listening and it is a fundamental tactic. The goal is to identify what the other party really needs (economically, but also emotionally) and make her feel safe. In this way we validate his emotions and create a climate of trust.

The three voice registers that can be used to make our interlocutor feel comfortable

Our brain not only processes actions and words, but also feelings and intentions. When we enter a room with a good level of enthusiasm, we attract others to us. If on the street you smile at a stranger, he will smile at you.

When people are in a positive mental state they think faster, they are more collaborative and willing to problem solving. We can use this powerful tool by managing our voice.

The negotiator essentially uses three registers:

  • tone of voice of the DJ of a night radio that broadcasts in FM, calm and slow;
  • positive, playful voice, appearing relaxed and smiling;
  • assertive (or direct) voice to be used rarely.

Most of the time the second voice should be used, that of a naturally comfortable person, open to conversation, encouraging.

The third should be used with caution because it signals dominance. Speaking slowly and clearly, in a flat way, conveys only one idea: I am in control. Active listening allows you to use mirroring (mirror), using the information that comes from the other party.

This technique serves to make us perceive as similar and is based on a profound biological mechanism: we are afraid of what is different, we trust what is equal to us. We love to belong to groups whose members have similar traits to ours. Being part of it makes us feel safe.

To do this, you have to repeat the last three words that the other has spoken, or the most important of the last three.

Use empathy to accommodate emotions and win negotiation

There are those who advise to separate people from the problem, not to be touched by emotions. But how do you do when emotions are the problem?

Instead of denying them, the good negotiator identifies and influences them. The relationship between a negotiator and his counterpart is similar to that between psychotherapist and patient. In both cases, we work with emotions to change behavior. In both cases, you have to talk little and listen a lot.

You need to be able to think from another person’s point of view while you are talking to them and quickly evaluate what is driving them.

Empathy is a classic light skill, a so-called soft skill, but it has a physiological basis: when we carefully observe a person’s face, gestures and tone of voice, our brain aligns in a process called neuronal resonance, which it allows us to understand what others think and feel. Studies show that the process lapses when communication is poor.

Knowing how to use empathy allows you to achieve what, according to Sun Tzu, is the greatest victory: to win the enemy without fighting him.

Use the labeling technique to negotiate negativity

Identify emotions, transform them into words, bring them into full light showing that you understand what the person is feeling. In practice, it is a matter of describing the emotion that the other side is experiencing aloud, so as to convey deep understanding.

This tactic is called labeling, applying a definition. It is a way to validate the emotions of others, and above all it is the best way to negotiate negativity: you must observe it without reacting and without judging, then labeling every negative feeling, carefully describing it out loud and transforming it with positive proposals, aimed at suggest solutions.

The “no” as an opportunity to clarify any doubts about negotiation

For good negotiation, the word “no” is pure gold. It offers a great opportunity to clarify what you really want, eliminating what is not perceived as valuable. In addition, saying “no” is liberating, makes you feel secure and makes you feel in control.

Whenever possible, the negotiator should ask a question that has “no” as an answer, to get the other side to feel safe. Of course you need to learn to be told “no” and react in the right way, you have to rethink the word in one of these keys:

  • I’m still not ready to agree;
  • You’re making me feel uncomfortable;
  • I do not understand;
  • I don’t think I can do it;
  • I want something else;
  • I need more information; I want to talk about it with someone else.

Then apply the labeling and ask, “What of this is not good for you? What do you need to make it work for you? “.

Use “rule of three” to strengthen the deal

There are three types of “yes”: counterfeiting, confirmation, commitment. The “yes” of counterfeiting serves to carry on the discussion to find information, the confirmation one is often innocent, a conditioned reflection, a simple statement that does not promise concrete actions.

The third is what we have to get, that is, a sincere agreement that will correspond to a signature of the contract. There is a way to recognize them, “the rule of three”. In practice, action is taken to put the counterparty in the position of having to say three times yes to the same thing, reinforcing the agreement three times dynamically and bringing to light possible problems before they arise.

Since we often negotiate on the phone, or at any distance, it is important to apply techniques like this:

“So, do we agree?”
– Yes.
“I hear you say yes, but there seems to be a hesitation in your voice.”
– Oh, no, really.
“This is important, let’s make sure it’s all right.”
– Thanks, I appreciate it.

What value is “true” in negotiation

We all expect to get love and approval as a response to what we do, so the most important words when negotiating are “That’s right”.