If you’re new to the term, an Accusation Audit™ is a negotiation technique used to proactively address the negatives likely harbored by the other side and defuse them before they blow up the conversation later on.
But when should you use an Accusation Audit internally, and when should you use it with an external counterpart? Let’s find out.
Using an Accusation Audit Internally
Leaders and managers often believe team meetings are designed for groupthink and alignment. Some managers feel that if they take charge and give the group direction, then everyone will follow their orders because they said so.
That’s not a wise approach.
As a manager, your job is to cultivate a meeting environment that lets everyone speak up and not stress about saying anything stupid. Although you don’t need to use an Accusation Audit in every team meeting, remember that group dynamics are at play and some people will feel slighted when a decision is made that goes against their suggestions.
When a final decision is made or bad news is given, that’s your cue to use an Accusation Audit. It should sound like this: First off, the group did a great job coming together and sharing ideas. I appreciate the passionate contributions from everyone in this room. Obviously, we made a decision, and some of you are going to feel as though your ideas weren’t taken into account as much as they should have been, and you might not completely agree with the direction we’ve chosen.
After laying it out, steer the conversation back to groupthink to protect the group’s integrity using Calibrated Questions™ and Labels™: What did we miss? It seems like there are pieces we haven’t touched on yet.
You’ll also want to use an Accusation Audit when you hire a new manager and skip someone over for a promotion. If you want the existing employee to stay on your team, you need to address this situation right away. If you don’t, that individual will start thinking about quitting that day. Here’s what you say: You’re going to feel slighted. You’re going to feel like you got screwed. You’re going to feel like we don’t appreciate you and we haven’t taken into account all of the great work you’ve done over the years.
Defusing the negatives makes the news land softer.
Using an Accusation Audit Externally
When you speak with someone outside your organization, you want to kick things off with an Accusation Audit 90 percent of the time. No matter what situation you’re in, your counterpart already brought negatives to the table, and if you’re the one with the product or service, you’re the one who’s doing the talking.
The fact that your counterpart is looking to buy your product or service means they have questions. They’ve already looked at other solutions on the market, and they have many things top of mind that need to be brought to the forefront.
By kicking things off with an Accusation Audit, you can defuse the negatives and set the expectations for the meeting. Once you wrap up your Accusation Audit, use Dynamic Silence™ to discover what’s on your counterpart’s mind. You can also ask them directly: What’s the biggest question you have?
When they feel listened to and understood, you’re well on your way to building rapport and trust-based influence—making it that much easier to open the floodgates of truth talk and uncover the Black Swans.
Accusation Audit: One Tool in Your Tool Belt
In our experience, the Accusation Audit is one of the most effective negotiation techniques you can employ. Still, it’s only one tool, and there are many more.
To learn more about other techniques you can use to get the outcomes you’re looking for, check out this infographic that outlines the Negotiation 9™.