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5 Ways Tactical Empathy Can Assist You In Getting What You Want

By |October 09, 2023

Why do some people appear to be more persuasive than everyone else?

Contrary to what you might think, the ability to gain influence in a negotiation doesn’t have to do with your personality or charisma. The key to negotiation success has nothing to do with your height, complexion, level of education, or IQ.

The world’s best negotiators can intuit what is below the surface, uncovering the Black Swans— the information that the other side a) holds close to their chest or b) significant information to which they are blind—that change the course of each deal.

They do this by using Tactical Empathy®, to develop rapport and trust-based influence to, ultimately get what they want. In this post, we’ll explore five Tactical Empathy concepts you can use to enjoy similar outcomes.

1. Attention to sequencing.

Every productive negotiation has three phases:

  1. The Discovery Phase, in which you deliberately demonstrate an understanding of your counterpart’s worldview through verbalization that is predicated on what they give you.
  2. The Guiding Phase, in which you deferentially provide data and information that supports your position.  Positioning yourself to be seen once collaboration has been established.  Caution>>>This is where people spend a disproportionate amount of time
  3. The Leading Phase, in which you deliberately effort to influence the counterpart in a specific direction

Many negotiators fail to remember that the deal-making process is sequential. Eager to win business, they skip to phase three without building the foundation of understanding necessary to effectively influence the other side.

At the end of the day, it’s almost impossible to persuade someone who doesn’t feel understood. If you truly want to understand someone, you need to take the time to listen to everything they’re telling you, both verbally and more importantly, nonverbally. 

What is your intuition telling you?

2. Gather information and build trust.

People aren’t inclined to trust people who fail to solicit input before stating their goals and objectives. Instead of launching into a monologue about your ideal solution and the value you can provide, focus on your counterpart, stay curious, and try to demonstrate an understanding of what the lay of the land looks like from theior perspective. 

As you begin building a relationship with your counterpart, try to figure out how you can get them to think out loud in front of you, earn their trust, and convince them to meet with you again.

Three tools—Mirrors™, Labels™, and a Summary™—can be particularly helpful here. Mirrors are a great way to get your counterpart to expand on what they’ve said and show that you’ve been paying attention. Similarly, Labels and Summaries enable you to demonstrate that you are not solely interested in where you want to end up which nurtures trust.

As you begin the discovery process, avoid the impulse to ask questions. Lean on Asking Labels instead. Asking Labels are Labels with an upward inflection, turning them into a query.  Despite your best intentions, questions can come across as offensive.  

3. Understand and manage loss.

Every human decision is a careful balance of perceived risk versus opportunity—or loss versus gain. Ultimately, everyone is afraid of losing something, and the fear of loss tends to overshadow and potential benefits of making a decision.

One of the key concepts of Tactical Empathy is the ability to understand what loss looks like to your counterpart and articulate that vision so accurately the other side has no choice but to respond with two magical words: "That's Right"™

If you hear those words, you can be confident that any resistance the other side was harboring has melted away.

Once you understand your counterpart’s perception of loss, you can begin to manage how it affects the deal at hand. To do this, ask Calibrated Questions™ and No-Oriented Questions™

  • What happens if you don’t buy a new solution?
  • Is it out of line to say that your team could use a new solution?
  • Would you disagree that your company is relying on legacy technology?

Whatever you do, avoid using your understanding of loss to make threats or set ultimatums. This will only come back to bite you later.

Does your negotiation strategy fit their personality? Use this guide to  negotiate successfully with anyone »

4. Address fairness.

If we don’t perceive a deal to be fair, we are less likely to trust our counterparts and hear them out. The desire to be treated fairly is critical to negotiations. To influence your counterpart’s perception, you need to keep fairness top of mind.

The easiest way to do that is to lead with: If at any point you think I’m being unfair, I want you to stop me.  We will rewind the conversation back to where the unfairness began and we will pick it up from there.  

Many manipulative negotiators will weaponize fair/fairness.  Such an approach takes permission and authority away from them for using fairness against you. 

5. Tackle implementation.

There’s no such thing as a deal without implementation. If you’ve done things correctly to this point, you’ll enter phase three of negotiation, and you won’t have to do any persuading at all. Instead, it’s time to address implementation and encourage your counterpart to engage with the solution.

At this point, transform your counterpart into a problem-solver. Ask them questions such as, How can we make sure the deal stays on track? and What happens if your side fails to meet that deadline? 

These Calibrated Questions can also bring behind-the-scenes deal-killers to the table, encouraging all parties to think beyond the present moment and navigate the future.

Now that you have a better idea about these Tactical Empathy concepts for persuasion, use them to create a collaborative environment and win more business.  Now, it’s time to turn your attention to the person sitting across the table from you. To continue your negotiation training, download our free guide, Three Negotiator Types.

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