“Satisfaction” is a great word – doesn’t it sound like something that we’d all like to achieve every time we start a negotiation? As great as this concept is, despite all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that we’ve learned, just exactly how to achieve it is something that seems to elude negotiators because we just don’t know how to get there. The good news is that there are three simple things that you can do in order to boost your chances of emerging from your next negotiation with both parties having a sense of satisfaction.
Find Common Ground
When I’m working with people who are just starting their negotiating careers, all too often I’ll discover that they have an attack mentality. They are thinking about how they can “get” the other side an bend them to their will. Hold on. There is no way that you’re going to be able to reach a deal with the other side of the table unless they agree to the deal. This means that instead of attacking, you are going to have to find some common ground.
Common ground means that you and the person that you are negotiating with share some similar ways of looking at the world. This can be as simple as both of you being part of a family. Or perhaps you are both working for demanding bosses. It really does not matter what the common ground is, all that matters is that you are able to find it before the negotiations start.
The reason that finding common ground is so important is because this will provide both sides of the table with a “home base” that you can retreat to when things get tough during the negotiation. You’ll always know that you have something in common with the other side and you’ll be able find other areas of agreement from that spot.
Find Some Rapport
More often than not, when a negotiation is starting you are a stranger to the other side of the table. They don’t know you and they don’t feel any connection with you. It’s your job to change this. The fancy term for what you are going to want to do is called “establish rapport”.
What this means is that you have to take the time to listen to what the other side is telling you, remembering what they have already told you, and then showing the other side that you are truly interested in them as a person. It’s when they understand that you want to know what is going on in their life that they will start to feel a sense of rapport with you.
Why bother to go to the effort of setting up this sense of rapport? Simple – this is going to be your ticket to getting them to trust you. This means that by establishing rapport you are actually selling yourself. If you can get the other side to be comfortable dealing with you, then you have a much better chance of having them believe that you’ll do what you promise to do during the negotiations.
Show Your Nice Side
Once again if we go back to looking at how a lot of new negotiators start out we’ll discover that they want to put on an aggressive face. They want to show the other side that they mean business and so they’ll come across as aggressive, argumentative, and even in some cases offensive.
I can understand where they are coming from: they believe that if they somehow scare the other side, then they’ll be able to achieve a better deal. Bad news: the world doesn’t work this way. Taking an aggressive posture will cause the other side to do the same thing and all of a sudden reaching a deal with the other side just got a lot hard to do.
A much better approach is to show the other side of the table that you are a nice person to do business with. The folks who have studied negotiating have discovered that nice people are not only better negotiators, but they have also been shown to be able to reach better deals that turn out to be more satisfying to both sides of the table.
What All Of This Means For You
The reason that you and I are willing to spend the time and effort that a principled negotiation requires is because we want the deal that will come out of our efforts. In order to increase our chances of making this happen, there are three things that you need to learn how to do.
The first is to take the time to find some common ground with the other side. This will provide you with a base to then find other areas of agreement. Next, you should create a sense of rapport with the other side. This will allow them to believe that you’ll do what you promise to do. Finally, be nice! A nice person has a better chance to reach a deal that meets the needs of both sides.
All too often negotiators think that they have to become someone else when they are negotiation – an aggressive person who is out to win. We need to understand that this is not the case. Take the time to follow these suggestions and you’ll be able to reach better deals quicker!
- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: What clues about the other side can you use to explore for where there might be some common ground between you?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
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…