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Negotiation Tactics and Leadership: Why the Two Work Together

By |November 15, 2021

Leaders are charged with promoting their organization’s mission and getting people to produce. To influence your direct reports to do what you want without a begrudging attitude, it’s essential to employ hostage negotiation tactics and principles every day.

In the world of hostage negotiation, your goal is to influence hostage-takers to surrender. But you don’t just start the conversation by telling them to give it up. Instead, you approach the surrender in a subordinate manner, ensuring you are not viewed as a threat.  Making a concentrated effort so that the hostage-taker knows you see things from their perspective. Only at that point can you begin to accomplish your objective.

Negotiation Tactics and Leadership: Why the Two Work Together

The same idea holds true in the business world. If your goal is to get your employees to do something, you can’t lead the conversation with your ask. Instead, you need to show your team that you know what it’s like to be in their position, understand how they will be impacted, and have their best interests at heart. 

In using Tactical Empathy™ as a core negotiation tactic, you can create an environment in which your team does things not because you ask them to, but because they want to. 

[INFOGRAPHIC] Do you consider yourself to be an effective leader? Here are  seven leadership characteristics you should live by »

Hostage Negotiation-Leadership: Addressing the Negatives

As a leader, whenever you propose potential changes, there will be negative emotions and dynamics associated with those changes. The sooner you recognize that, the sooner you will create an environment in which it’s not about you—it’s about your direct reports. And that’s the ticket to developing trust-based influence.

Hostage Negotiation-Leadership is an approach in which you manage employees as though they are hostage-takers. At a base level, it involves showing your employees you understand the lay of the land from their perspective. In doing so, you convey an understanding of how changes will impact them—making them much more likely to get on board.

On the flip side, when you don’t address the negatives, collaboration will take longer, and results won’t be as robust. If you fail to address the negatives in your case for change, your team will instead be focused on their inner monologue: These people are always switching things up. They don’t think we work hard enough, and they don’t think our lives are complicated enough, so they’re putting more on our plates. 

Negotiation Tactics: It’s All About Sequencing

Achieving your highest potential as a leader starts with properly sequencing the conversation. When you lead with your goal or objective, you will hear grumbles of disapproval. This is why it is essential to lead with Tactical Empathy and prove to your team that you see things the way they do.

When you lead with Tactical Empathy, your direct reports are more likely to return the favor when it is time to make your request. Employees are not much different than hostage-takers—they just want someone to understand their perspective.

One easy way to do this is by kicking off your ask with an Accusation Audit™

What does this look like in action? Imagine you’re about to share some bad news—like throwing more work on your already busy team’s plate. You might start like this: This is going to stink for you guys. You’re probably going to think that management is noncommittal and always changing things midstream. You’re going to be frustrated that we can’t seem to settle on one solution. You may even feel like you’re on a rudderless ship being tossed in the waves.  Each one of these sentences should be punctuated with at least two seconds of Dynamic Silence.

At this point, it’s time to outline the new course of action.

Those few Accusation Audits go a long way toward getting your team to buy into your plan. Through the property of reciprocity, your team will be much more receptive to your needs because you first demonstrated that you understand leadership isn’t all about you—it’s about how your actions will impact them.

Great Leaders Are Great Negotiators

You can’t be an exceptional leader if you aren’t an effective negotiator. That’s because leaders are bound to find themselves delivering bad news sooner or later. And when that time  comes, you must deliver it as effectively as you can—which is only possible by using Tactical Empathy to demonstrate that you know how the news will impact your team.

When you are in the middle of a conversation and the words, “I want” or “I need” are in your head or the heads of your direct reports,  you’re in a negotiation. Although the degree of impact might be different, the sooner you become aware of this, the sooner you can begin using Tactical Empathy to influence your team.

For more information on what effective leadership looks like, check out this infographic.

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