Negotiation is not just about sales or business talk. It’s an important process which happens in our everyday lives, whether we are aware of it or not.
Remember those overly emotional disagreements, awkward moments of silence, or misunderstandings with your family members, colleagues, or employees? Or even that time you were being aggressively sold a product or service you really didn’t need?
What if you could go back in time and rewrite these situations, according to the outcome you wanted? Well, you can’t and you shouldn’t try.
What you can do, is learn some of the basic negotiation tips and start making a positive impact with every human interaction you have.
1. Slow it down
You don’t have to attend sales or public speaking seminars to be skilled in social negotiation. One thing you can start practicing right away is to slow yourself down when talking to people. Give yourself time during conversation to observe how you think and react in different situations.
Most people live and breathe in a reactive state. When an emotionally-triggering situation arises, such as a argument, their “adult” brain starts to shut down and their “emotional” brain starts to kick in and override any logical thoughts they may have. This often leads to an outcome they regret or aren’t satisfied with.
Instead of being on a leash of your emotions, try to observe them. Simply be aware of them.
Slow to understand what you’re feeling observe what you feel you WANT to say.
Then, think logically about what you SHOULD say to steer the conversation towards an outcome you’ll later be happy with.
2. Make empathy your superpower
Once you are comfortable with the range of emotions you feel when negotiating with people, it’s time to learn how to understand the emotions the people you are in negotiation with are feeling.
And here is my take on how to do that…
Listen to what people say and see if you can understand whether they actually mean what they say. Most of our communication is a byproduct of what we believe in and has nothing to do with anyone else.
Generally, people are self-centred that can make them impose their own beliefs onto other people without knowing they’re doing it.
Try tuning into this idea when talking to people. You will be able to read people’s basic emotions such as anger, frustration, disappointment, joy, and surprise.
3. Stand your ground
The most common challenge most people face in communication is conflicts of their own interests. When you enter any type of bargaining situation, you must first know what you value. If you don’t know what’s important to you, the wrong perception of things can lead you to misunderstand what others want from you.
One of the things I learned early on, when working as a sales consultant, is that I value problem-solving. Sales and negotiations for me is a gateway to help people improve their lives.
Fairness in partnership? Survival of the fittest? Competition? Meeting deadlines? These, and many other questions, can help you understand what you stand for in life and business.
You see, we live in a world where wearing a social mask is the norm. We’re simply afraid of being real, even to our own selves. This prevents us from building truly meaningful relationships with others. If we can’t be true to ourselves, how can we expect people to really understand what we’re about and what we want to achieve?
4. Know where they’re coming from
Social negotiation is partly about asking good questions. Good questions are about genuine curiosity. Curiosity is about perception. And perception is about what you believe in.
Now, when it comes to, let’s say, money, your job is to learn about the beliefs of other people and how they differ from yours.
Remember how, as a kid, you wanted to find out about things without any prejudgment? Even if you don’t remember, your subconscious mind does.
Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator. In his book, “Never Split The Difference”, he explains that it’s about knowing where your opponent is coming from. It’s about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes.
For example, kidnapping may seem like a horrific act, but for a kidnapper it’s a business. Just as building a business is a risky, sometimes daunting, and very challenging idea. But for an entrepreneur, it’s a way of life.
5. Seek uncomfortable conversations
I’m surprised to see how many people avoid confrontation and conflict. But I do get why. I used to be “too nice” myself. But developing a strong tolerance for conflict is an essential ingredient, not just for being effective in negotiation but also for having a healthy level of self-esteem.
Another thing I learned in sales, is that seeking or provoking uncomfortable conversations can lead to winning business.
Most up-and-coming entrepreneurs and sales people are simply “too nice” to their prospects. In their minds, they put them on a pedestal and are afraid of challenging them. Your prospects will never open up to you or reveal their pain points if you aren’t brave enough to dive deep and be ok with rejection.
Whether you want to improve your social skills or become better at closing sales, always strive to have a long-term view on harnessing the skill of negotiation. If you do it well, it’ll very soon become a powerful tool for building positive and meaningful relationships in your life.
P.S. I also recommend reading more about Chris Voss’s principles for successful negation. This article is a good place to start.
Learned smth new? Get out there and find some uncomfortable situations!
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