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Our 10 Most Popular Negotiation Terms That You Need to Know

By |July 24, 2023

If you have read our content over the years, you have likely seen the same negotiation terms discussed again and again. 

Why do we repeat ourselves? 

Because we’re in the business of helping you achieve better negotiation outcomes, and we know that repetition is the key to using these negotiation skills effectively.

In this post, we examine our 10 most popular negotiation terms. Master each of these skills and negotiate a better life!

1. Labels™ 

In negotiations, Labels™—which begin with phrases like it seems like, it looks like, it sounds like, or it feels like—help you bring forth dynamics, emotions, and circumstances your counterpart has not expressed.

For example, you might sit down at the table only to find your counterpart being short with you and not engaging in the conversation. Using a Label, you might say something like this: It seems like you have something on your mind. 

Essentially, you use Labels to try and uncover what the other side is not saying. In some cases, you might purposely Label something incorrectly with a Mislabel

Need some help getting started with Labels? Check this out.

2. Mirrors™ 

As the name suggests, a Mirror™ is when you repeat the last three to five words your counterpart said back at them using an inquisitive tone. Instead of affirming or disagreeing with the other side, Mirrors show that you’re paying attention while creating space that the other side will fill with additional information.

To illustrate, imagine you’re trying to make a deal, and your counterpart seems to be stalling. When the conversation appears to be winding down, they say something like this: I would love to make a deal with you right now, but I’ll have to get back to you in two weeks. Using a Mirror, you respond: In two weeks? Your counterpart will likely tell you the precise reason for the holdup. 

3. No-Oriented Questions™ 

Nobody likes to say yes because yes is a commitment. Using No-Oriented Questions™, we can get our counterpart to agree by saying no. 

When Ronald Reagan was running for president, he asked America a series of No-Oriented Questions in the weeks leading up to the 1980 election. Are you better off than you were four years ago? We all know how that election turned out.

If you’re trying to schedule a meeting with someone who continues to blow you off, ask them this: Would it be impossible to talk for 15 minutes next Thursday?

4. Calibrated Questions™

Calibrated Questions™—questions that start with what, how, and sometimes why—can help the other side think. For example, try asking: What will happen if we can’t make a deal? The other side will have to provide a robust answer. You can use that information to inform your strategy moving forward.

Calibrated Questions can be particularly helpful during implementation. How will we know that we’re on track?

5. Accusation Audit®  

In every negotiation, your counterpart will harbor negative sentiments about you or the deal. For example, if you’re trying to get the other side to slash their price by 20 percent, it’s safe to say they might be a bit annoyed.

Using an Accusation Audit®, you can defuse those sentiments by proactively calling them out. For example, you might say this: You will not like what I have to say. You’ll probably think I’m incredibly stingy and don’t want to pay you what you deserve. 

By confronting the negatives head-on, you can overcome emotional obstacles between you and a deal.

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

6. Summary™ 

A Summary™ involves summarizing the known facts of the conversation and the emotional sentiments attached to them. The idea is to summarize your counterpart’s point so thoroughly that they can only give one response: "That's Right"™

Once your counterpart says those two magic words, you can move forward with confidence.

7. “I” Message

The "I" message addresses counterproductive behavior or actions while maintaining a constructive approach. It consists of three components:

  1. When you [state the behavior or action] …
  2. I feel/it seems [like this] …
  3. Because [reason the behavior is a problem]. 

For instance, you can say something like this: When you raise your voice, I feel like we can’t reach productive resolutions because it disrupts the flow of our discussions.

8. Dynamic Silence™  

Dynamic Silence™ means using silence as a tool to give your counterpart time to think and the opportunity to respond. 

Silence is uncomfortable and awkward. After you use another Black Swan skill, follow up with silence and count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand in your head. Your counterpart will break the silence before you get to 10.

9. Hypothesis

The world’s toughest negotiators never assume. Instead, they form hypotheses and test them to determine whether they’re true. 

If you think something is a possibility, you need to test it to find out. Never be afraid of inquiring. What’s the worst that could happen?

10. Tactical Empathy®  

Tactical Empathy® means understanding your counterpart’s perspective and ensuring they’re aware you see things from where they stand and know the emotions they’re experiencing. 

By using Tactical Empathy effectively, your counterpart will view you as less of an opponent and more of a partner.

Start Achieving Better Outcomes  

There they are—the most popular terms in the Black Swan lexicon.

Deploy these skills next time you sit down at the table to achieve better outcomes. 

Want to continue learning? Download The Black Swan Group's Negotiation 9™️️️ to give you the upper hand in any negotiation.

The Black Swan Group Negotiation 9