The Power Of Being Humble In A Negotiation

by drjim on October 8, 2015

If you can be humble, then you can get what you want from a negotiation

If you can be humble, then you can get what you want from a negotiation
Image Credit: Michael Coghlan

Our goal in any negotiation is to get the deal that we want. Exactly how we can go about getting that deal is where things start to get just a bit tricky. When we encounter a negotiator who is very, very confident, this opens a door for us that is not normally there. When the other side is confident, we need to adjust our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to be humble.

How To Start A Negotiation With A Too Confident Person

It’s actually sorta funny that most of us probably don’t know how to be humble. In most negotiation training programs we’re taught how to be confident and assertive. However, when you are dealing with a person who is just a bit over confident, you’re going to want to take all of your negotiating training and turn it on its head. You’ll know that someone is over confident when they start out a negotiation by telling you that “I am the expert in this area”.

When someone tells you this, there are a lot of different possible responses. The correct response is to tell them that you agree. Something along the lines of “Yes, I know that you are the expert in this area” would do the trick. Yes, this is flattery and what’s important is when you are dealing with someone who believes that they know everything, flattery will get you what you want. When the other side believes that you agree with him or her that they are the authority, then they believe that they will be in charge of the negotiation. It turns out that they are dead wrong.

Lowering The Guard Of The Other Side

The reason that it is worth your time to hold your tongue and not challenge the other side’s belief that they know more than you do is because by doing this you’ll lull them into a state of compliance. They will no longer see you as a threat to them because you will have acknowledged what they already knew: that they were the smartest person at the table.

Your flattery will serve one single purpose: it will cause the other side of the table to lower their guard. Since you will no longer be seen as being a threat, they won’t feel as though they have to guard against you. By being humble at the negotiating table, you are convincing the other side that they have already won this negotiation. The result of this is that he or she is going to be off their guard. This will open a door for you to get what you want from the negotiation.

What All Of This Means For You

In order to get what we want out of our next principled negotiation, we need to start things off by taking the time to analyze who we will be negotiating with. If it turns out that the other side of the table is very confident in their ability to negotiate with us, then a real opportunity has arrived.

When we are negotiating with someone who is too confident, we have the opportunity to act humble. By not challenging their authority or their knowledge, we can use flattery to get on their good side. Once they see that we acknowledge how much they know, they will let their guard down. Once this happens, we can be in control the rest of the negotiation.

It is not always easy to act humble during a negotiation. We may actually be the people who know the most about what is being negotiated. However, in the right situation our humility can get us the deal that we want faster than any other method. Give it try and see just how far it gets you!

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

Question For You: What is the best way to determine if the other side is too confident?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Every time that we sit down to negotiate with someone, we are encountering a new personality with new negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. When we run into someone who believes that they know everything we can use this to get what we want from the negotiation. All you have to do is to remember that they think that they know everything and so you don’t have to share very much with them.

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