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2 Smart Tactics to Get You What You Want In A Negotiation

By |June 09, 2015

ChessNearly everyone shows up for a negotiation burning to have his or her say. You’ve thought about what you want and how you want to get it. You’ve mapped your arguments, your must-haves and your giveaways. You’ve got your sights set on where you want to go and know how you want to get there.

This approach is the most common approach to negotiation and yet, it leaves you the most vulnerable.

No one can listen and think about what they want to say. It truly is an either/or. You can switch quickly back and forth between the two, but every switch is like changing the channel on a TV. When you’re on one channel, you are not on the other. Things fall through the cracks and those things may be the keys to the deal.

The other side has the same problem. For you to get what you want, at some point you’re going to need them to listen to you. They will listen much better once they’ve said what they have to say and you have acknowledged.

I heard one of professional sports great deal-makers say recently that in two hours of dialog there will be 90 seconds of solid gold that you need to hear to make the deal. You’ve got to listen closely for those 90 seconds and be able to compare it to the other things that have been said for it to stand out.

In hostage negotiation, we always had a saying – “What’s it going to take to get the bad guy to come out? He’ll tell us. But not directly.”

I asked this great sports deal-maker how did he know the solid gold when he heard it? He went on to describe looking for changes in tone of voice, pronoun use, pace, and their use of descriptors. For descriptors, anything that wasn’t rock solid indicated hope or positioning. Example: “I think…” or “I can...” is not “I have…”

So, what do you do?

The secret to gaining the upper hand in negotiations is giving the other side the illusion of control.

1. Let them go first.

They will feel great and you will gather a lot of information. You might find out that your giveaways are worthless to them. Or even better, that your giveaways are what they lust for, what they highly prize, and what will be the key to the whole deal. What good is it to you to throw out an early chip before you know its value?

2. Clarify

When you clarify what they’ve said they will feel even better. They will feel heard and be more open to hearing what you want. Please consider this, do you want them less open to hearing what you want?

To about two thirds of the people we deal with, being heard is actually more important than making the deal! Clarify what they want and what makes them want it. Leave yourself open to making a better deal than what you might have had in mind in the first place.

Never be so sure of what you want that you wouldn’t take something better.

One of my all time favorite negotiations was between a student of mine who told me about trying to talk his wife into buying an artificial Christmas tree. To him, the artificial tree made all the sense in the world. You buy it once, it never catches on fire, no needles all over the floor, you’ve got the same great looking tree year after year, the dog never makes it a point to mark his territory, the list goes on.

She wanted a real tree. No matter what he said she wouldn’t listen to his practicality. Finally, when he got her to open up about what was making her want this impractical thing, she told him about wanting to create holidays for their children around a real tree like the ones she remembered as a child. She vividly recalled the smell of a real tree, the feel of it, and all the things that she remembered so fondly. She shared how close her family was and how cherished her childhood was as a result.

They bought a real tree.

Make some rain!

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