Negotiators Need To Know How To Shift Into The Right Gear

by drjim on January 10, 2014

To get to the end, negotiators need to learn how to shift

To get to the end, negotiators need to learn how to shift
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I’ve got a quick question for you: would it be possible for you to drive from one location to another if you had to use a single gear on your car? The answer is “maybe”, but it sure would take a long time and that would not be a fun trip. As negotiators, we need to understand that not every negotiation is the same and we need to learn to “shift” our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to match what the other side of the table needs. Here’s how you can go about doing that…

Communication Styles

Do you talk with your best friend the same way that you talk with your mother? I didn’t think so. The same thing can be said about a negotiation. Every party that you negotiate with is going to be different. This means that you are going to have to be the one who adjusts to match their style.

Hopefully this is a pretty clear thing to do, but it does come with some risks. When we adjust our style, we run the risk of coming across as being insincere. You need to make sure that this doesn’t happen by making sure that the other side of the table can understand that you are really interested in what they have to say.

We need to realize that there is no one “magic” negotiating style that we can use in every negotiating situation. Developing the ability to shift how we interact with the other side is what is going to allow us to make forward progress and be able to reach a goal.

Understand Needs

If you don’t understand why the other side of the table is willing to sit down and negotiate with you, then you’ll never be able to reach a deal with them. Sure, there are the issues that are going to be negotiated; however, there is another set of needs that the other side has.

It’s understanding these other needs that holds the key to your ability to successfully wrap up the negotiations. These needs can be quite varied. The other side may have a real need to be able to show their boss that they “won” the negotiation. If this is the case, then you’re going to have to create a number of concessions that you can give them during the negotiations while not giving away those things that are most important to you.

What this means for you is that right off the bat in a negotiation you are going to have to spend some time discovering what is really motivating the other side. Asking questions and observing how they are reacting will reveal a great deal about what their real needs are.

Build A Feeling Of Trust

There is really no guarantee that you’ll actually do the things that you promise to do during a negotiation. If the other side of the table does not trust you, then you are going to find yourself spending a great deal of time negotiating a lot of self-protection conditions that are designed to ensure that you are true to your word

A much simpler way to get to the deal that you want is to spend your time building a sense of trust with the other side. The way that you can make this happen is by treating the other side with sincerity and, gasp, being friendly in all of your dealings with them.

Trust is something that can be lost at any time during a negotiation. That means that you always have to be aware of it and you have to be working in order to keep trust. One of the best ways to make this happen is to making sure that you keep your promises – always do what you’ve promised to do!

What All Of This Means For You

In the world of socks, they may be able to get away with selling products that boast “one size fits all”. However, when it comes to negotiating this doesn’t work – we all have to learn how to shift how we interact with the other side of the table in order be able to reach a deal with them.

When we talk about “shifting” your negotiating style, what we mean is that you need to be able to discover what style of communication is going to allow you to connect with the other side. Once you’ve done this, you’ll need to take the time to uncover what their real needs are. Throughout the entire principled negotiation you’ll have to working to both establish and maintain a level of trust with the other side so that you can finally reach a deal that both sides can live with.

Shifting how you interact with the other side of the negotiating table is not all that different from how we interact with other people in our lives. We are always adjusting how we work with other people and a negotiating session should be no different. Learn to shift and you’ll be a negotiating success!

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there is anything that you can do to help the other side shift to adjust to your style / needs?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Can you negotiate with the other side of the table if they don’t trust you? It’s an interesting question and more than once I’ve run into negotiators who have told me that the answer is “no”. I believe that they are wrong, yes you can negotiate with just about anybody no matter if they trust you or not. However, if they don’t trust you, then you’re going to pay the price…

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