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Moving Between the Black Swan Skills

By |April 22, 2024

The Black Swan Method® consists of the Negotiation 9® skills which have been battle-tested and are proven to streamline difficult conversations as you demonstrate Tactical Empathy®.

When you can lead with Tactical Empathy, you pave your path with collaboration and trust-based influence—making it much easier to achieve favorable business outcomes.  

Even so, it’s not always smooth sailing, and there are often speed bumps along the way.  

During any negotiation, not everything you say or do will come from Black Swan techniques. After all, you are a human being having a conversation.

Making The Black Swan Method a habit requires a lot of practice and effort. One common rough patch many of us hit is failing to smoothly transition between the skills.

How to Move Between Black Swan Skills: A Real-World Example  

The power of the Accusation Audit® to defuse negative dynamics and emotions never ceases to amaze me. No matter where we find ourselves, our clients are eager to ask how to sequence Accusation Audits.

I often get asked how I transition to the next negotiation phase after I finish my initial list of Accusation Audits. What about using Accusation Audits before bad news or before making an ask?  

The answer is two words that cops and attorneys have used throughout the ages: That depends.

Recently, I had to cancel an appointment with a dentist. I was about 22 hours short of the required 24-hour cancellation time. When I called, I used three Accusation Audits that were both visceral and true: 

  1. I am about to make your job that much harder.  
  2. You are going to think I am a real idiot.  
  3. I know that lack of planning on my part does not create an emergency on your part.  

From the other side of the line, I heard genuine laughter. 

Then came the receptionist’s response: “I could never think you are an idiot!” Keep in mind she didn’t yet know who she was talking to; if I had more time, I would have convinced her!  

After I finished my Accusation Audits, I transitioned to a No-Oriented Question™: “Would I be putting you in a bad spot if I asked to reschedule my appointment?” 

There was more laughter—and no missed appointment fee.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Download our infographic to learn the nine crucial negotiation  skills that will give you the edge over your counterpart »

Other Ways to Move Between Black Swan Skills

You can also effectively transition from Accusation Audits by using Labels™. Make a list of some go-to Labels you can use to transition after you work through your Accusation Audits, delivering the most potent one last. 

Consider something like: It seems like you have some thoughts about our next steps, using an upward inflection at the end to make it sound like a question. If the situation calls for it, go with something like this: It feels like you have some concerns you want to share.  

Once your Accusation Audits have helped address the negatives, strongly consider jumping right into a Summary™. Use this skill by opening with: So far, you have told me … Then, try to summarize exactly what they said so thoroughly—to the point they’re only able to respond with two magic words: ”That’s Right”™, indicating emotional buy-in

Remember to avoid transitioning with “and”, “or,” “because,” and especially “but.” You don’t want to erase your Accusation Audits or even explain them.  

Most practitioners find transitioning between Labels, Paraphrases, and Mirrors™ more intuitive. Using the magic of Dynamic Silence™, you can make the changes between them invisible to your counterpart.  

Don’t Forget: Practice in Low-Stakes Situations

Even the best negotiators in the world can always improve. By practicing Black Swan skills in low-stakes scenarios, you can improve your transitions from one skill to the next. 

After all, the last thing you want is to find yourself in the conference room with a lot on the line only to realize you’re rusty. If you’re not confident you can use the skills effectively, it may prevent you from imagining a smooth way forward in the most challenging negotiations.

Should you ever find yourself in a place where you can’t figure out how to create a smooth transition or are unsure what to say next, remember that it is all about them. Use what they’re saying and what your intuition is telling you. 

By staying genuinely curious, moving between the skills becomes second nature. What worldview and emotion are you reading from your counterpart? Verbalizing these observations is how you demonstrate Tactical Empathy—and Tactical Empathy is what guides you through the Black Swan skills seamlessly.

New to the Negotiation 9? Enroll in our online self-paced course, “The Negotiation 9®,” and build the foundational skills to take your negotiation chops to the next level.

The Black Swan Group Negotiation 9