How To Find Hidden Weakness

by drjim on March 14, 2014

Weaknesses can show up in the most unexpected places

Weaknesses can show up in the most unexpected places
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As a negotiator, your job is to see through any negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that might be being used and spot any hidden weaknesses that the other side of the table may have. The good news is that you can accomplish this by taking the time to pick up on the subtle signals that the other side may be giving off. You just have to know what to look for…

What Body Language Can Tell You

One skill that every negotiator needs to have is the ability to observe the other side of the table. Their body language will be telling you a story that you really need to hear. No matter how much they don’t want you to learn something, there is a good chance that their body will betray them.

Sometimes the messages that the other side’s body language is sending to you will be obvious. Playing with a watch or looking at a clock are clearly signs that they want the negotiations to wrap up. However, you need to be careful to also check for the more subtle messages.

Things such as a quick glance at someone else on their team, some sort of nervous habit such as tapping on the table, or even a change in the pitch of their voice can all be clues as to what the other side is thinking. As you collect this information, take the time to consider what it is telling you. Putting the pieces together is what will generally provide you with the information that you are looking for.

It’s All About The Questions That You Ask

Discovering the other side’s weaknesses can be done simply by asking them the right questions. The questions that you ask may appear to be innocent on the surface; however, the answers that the other side provides you with may go a long way in revealing their weaknesses to you.

You need to keep in mind that the other side is in the process of trying to uncover your weaknesses by asking you questions. You’ll need to answer the questions that they ask. However, make sure that you don’t reveal too much in your answers – less information is always better in these situations.

The best kind of questions for you to ask are called “oblique” questions – these questions don’t have a quick yes / no type of answer. Good examples of these types of questions are “what if” questions (“what would happen if I paid half in cash?”) and timing questions (“what if I wanted to close in three months?”).

What All Of This Means For You

No matter how big and powerful the other side of the table may seem, just like everyone else they will arrive with their own set of weaknesses. As a negotiator you have the responsibility to find out just exactly what these weaknesses are. The trick is in knowing how to do this.

It is important to pay attention to the other side’s body language. Eye movements and changes in their voice may tell you what they are currently thinking and planing on doing next. In order to find out where the other side’s weakness lie, you need to be prepared to ask the right set of questions. Take your time and uncover where the weakness are.

If you want to be able to reach the best deal possible in your next principled negotiation, then you are going to have to be able to present a powerful image to the other side. A key part of doing this is to understand where their weaknesses are. Take the time to uncover these weaknesses and you’ll be one step closer to wrapping things up.

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

Question For You: How many weaknesses do you think that you should be looking for: one or more?

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