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Negotiation Tips: How to Negotiate with Coworkers, Colleagues, and Equals

By |January 17, 2022

The Black Swan Group often provides tips for negotiating with your direct reports and counterparts from other organizations.

However, in this post, we will share negotiation tips you can use in situations where no hierarchies exist. 

Here are some negotiation tips to keep in mind next time you navigate a difficult issue with coworkers, colleagues, and equals:

Negotiation Tips: How to Negotiate with Coworkers, Colleagues, and Equals

1. Get out of your head.

Most of us are self-absorbed and focused on what we want. We stay within that mindset and fail to consider the impact a conversation might have on our colleagues.

The first step to negotiating effectively with your coworkers is getting out of your head and understanding that it’s not about you.

If you are engaging in a tough conversation, the words I need or I want are floating around in your head or your counterpart’s head. This produces negative emotions and dynamics because you’re changing the status quo and introducing uncertainty. And uncertainty is the mother of fear. Fear activates the amygdala, causing you or your peers to stop thinking clearly.

Instead of focusing on yourself, turn the conversation around and focus on the person or people you’re talking to. Let them kick off the conversation with their vision by using a Label™ to draw it out. Something like: It seems like you have a vision of how you want this conversation to go. Use Labels, Mirrors™, and paraphrasing to move the discussion in the right direction. 

When you’re deferential to what your counterpart says, they will return the favor when it’s your turn to speak.

2. Ask permission to share.

After you’ve let your peer lead the conversation, summarize their stance. Then, launch into an Accusation Audit™, which might go something like this: You probably think this is a big waste of time. You’re wondering why we’re going over this topic again because we have covered it ad nauseam, and you might be unsure about whether our time will be used effectively. You might even be wondering if I’m prepared for this conversation. 

After that, use Labels and no-oriented questions to ask permission to share what’s on your mind: Would you be opposed to letting me walk you through my thought process? 

Remember, no-oriented questions are designed to generate a verbal no. But the behaviors that align with that no are tantamount to a yes. 

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

3. Double down on your Accusation Audit™.

Once you have their permission to share, drop in a couple more Accusation Audits to prepare your counterpart to receive the news you’re about to share: Now, this is probably going to sound stupid. This is probably going to catch you off guard. Once you hear what I have to say, you’re going to want to stab me in the eye with a pen. 

The reason you want to be colorful here is that you want them to think about the worst possible discussion in the world: What could he possibly say that will make me want to stab him in the eye with a pen? 

Now, they are bracing for something terrible, and the actual “ask” will pale in comparison to whatever they conjured up in their mind. That way, when you finally share the news, they will feel relieved.

4. End your pitch with silence.

After you’ve stated your case, fall silent and let that silence remain for a moment. This moment of Dynamic Silence™ gives your counterpart space to reflect upon what you just said.

Count to 10 in your head. Your coworker will almost certainly fill the void before you have gotten there. If they don’t, it’s because there is something else on their mind. To get past the impasse, you can prompt a response by using a Calibrated Question™: What have I missed? You can also lean on Labels here: It seems like I’m missing something.

Either way, it’s a subtle way to ask them what they think about what you just said. 

5. Don’t forget about personality types.

Whenever there’s a disagreement among team members that can’t be resolved, it’s usually because there is a mismatch between personality types on the team. By spending some time determining which personalities are on your team, you will have an easier time getting buy-in during difficult conversations.

Assertives care about being heard and respected, Analysts are interested in learning more information, and Accommodators are focused on the relationship. Use this knowledge to form strategies to bolster your pitch.

To learn more about how you can become an effective leader among your peers, check out this infographic: 7 Characteristics of Effective Leadership.


The Black Swan Group Negotiation 9