Two proven strategies to help executives negotiate better

ECP8 Aug20

Go slowly, build rapport and mirror your counterpart

When you are negotiating, you want to build a relationship with your counterpart by getting him talking and thinking.

Before you walk into the negotiation, be prepared and try to anticipate any possible surprises. While having several hypotheses about the situation is great, don’t assume anything to be true before a thorough analysis. 

Initially, don’t think of negotiation as an argument battle you must win. It is more like a process of discovery where you are trying to uncover as much information as possible. Focus on the other person and try to quiet the voices in your head.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in negotiating is going too fast. People need to be heard. While there is no rule you should stick to when it comes to starting a negotiating — try to build a rapport in the beginning. Don’t be in a hurry as you will risk undermining the rapport and trust one can build in the initial stages.

For years, mirroring has remained one of the most amazing tools to make your counterpart comfortable in the discussion. You can mirror their body language or their words. When they speak, try to mirror the last three words your counterpart says or the most critical part of the sentence.

We get comfortable with similar people. You can create an instant bond with the person on the other side by mirroring him.

Take some time and keep them talking — eventually, they will reveal some important information from their end.

Be empathic and label fears

For once let’s think about negotiation as a normal conversation. When the other person is listening with complete attention, we feel that he cares about our problem.

Try to put yourself in your counterpart’s situation. Imagine what he is going through, what he wants right now and why he wants that. You don’t have to agree with him/her, you just have to be empathic. You might find them or their idea totally crazy. Yet, you can show empathy.

We all have fears. The person you are negotiating will also have some insecurities and fears. For instance, you are negotiating a candidate for an executive position in your startup. The candidate may have a fear of joining a startup company because most startups fail. You can label this fear in the conversation. This will instantly make them a bit more comfortable. It will show them that you understand what they want.

When you are negotiating, try to notice any barriers that are coming in the way of the agreement. After you find out a barrier in the agreement — label it. Make some space for the silence and don’t try to fill it in. After labeling the barrier, take a pause and let the other person fill in the silence. 

As discussed earlier, label their anxieties. This way you can show him that you understand their fear. For instance, if you are in a business meeting, you can anticipate any hindrance or fear that might be stopping your counterpart from reaching an agreement or a deal. It could be a lack of trust, lack of understanding or lack of credibility. Label it by using sentences like

  • It seems like
  • It sounds like
  • It looks like

By using these sentences, you are indirectly suggesting that you understand their fear. And, if they tell you are wrong, then tell them you said “it seems like…” and you thought its good to ask about it. For instance, if you are selling an expensive product to someone who is price-conscious, he or she might have a fear of spending a large amount on buying the wrong thing.

You can validate her feeling by saying — “…it seems like you don’t want to waste your money by paying a huge amount to buy something unreliable”. Pause after saying this. Let them fill the silence.

These are the two of the most successful strategies you will ever learn. Whether you are in a business meeting or hiring an employee — you can implement these to negotiate better. You can also hire a business advisory solution firm to help you with leadership assessment, negotiation tactics and to overcome the interpersonal shortcoming of your employees.

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