During A Negotiation, We Hear What We Want To Hear

During a negotiation, what you hear may not be correct
During a negotiation, what you hear may not be correct
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How good are your ears? Do you feel that they are working the way that they should be? Do you think that you can hear what other people are saying? Can you hear this during a negotiation? I’d be willing to bet that most of us think that our ears work just fine while we are engaged in a negotiation no matter what negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are being used. However, the fact is that although they may be working just fine, it turns out that we may be hearing only the things that we want to hear.

What You Want To Hear During A Negotiation

There are a number of different reasons for why we hear what we hear during a negotiation. The primary one is because it is what the other side of the table is telling us. What they are saying is that there is something wrong with what we have proposed to them. They don’t just say it once, they will tell us this over and over again.

The good news is that we may realize that there is nothing wrong with what we have proposed. Our price is fair, our delivery date is the best out there, and our product or service is top notch. However, when we start to encounter people who tell us over and over again that there is something wrong with what we are proposing to them, unfortunately deep down inside of us there is something that will start to believe them.

Just to take this one step further, it can get worse. After we’ve been told enough times that there is something wrong with what we are proposing, something very mysterious will start to happen. We will start to find faults with what we are proposing. No offer and no product is perfect. We’ll start to take a look at our proposal and realize where our shortcomings are. What once looked like a fine offering now starts to look like it has a bunch of holes and gaps in it just because the other side said bad things about it.

How To Hear What’s Really Being Said

Clearly we have a problem here. It turns out that we can find what we are looking for. The mistake that we are making is hearing and starting to believe what the other side is telling us about our proposal. Things can get worse. We can start to specifically listen for it. And start to look for it. We’ll gather it as ammunition and go back and complain to our team.

What we are forgetting in this situation is that it is the job of the other side to complain about our proposal no matter if they think there is a problem or not. The people in the other side’s organization will never forgive him or her if they didn’t complain and try to get a better deal. They will forgive them if they don’t get a better deal, but not if they don’t try by complaining to you.

The way that you can deal with all of this is to take the time to tune in to your potential sources of power. Shut out all of the negative things that the other side is saying and focus instead on clues that the other side is giving off that will boost your power. You want to hear about things that limit the other side’s ability to use the competition, time pressures they may be under, and listen for people in the other organization who like your offering. Hear what makes you strong and you’ll be able to get the deal that you came looking for.

What All Of This Means For You

As negotiators we live in a world that is filled with negatives. When we enter into a principled negotiation, we start to hear negative things about our proposal from the other side. We need to be very careful about what our ears are telling us because all they are going to be hearing are negative things.

It is the job of the other side of the table to hit us with a stream of negative comments and thoughts about our proposal. Their management expects them to be doing this. Although we know that we’ve make a good proposal, if we hear enough negative things we may start to believe them over time. Things can get worse – we may start to look for faults with our proposal over time. What we need to do is to tune all of the negative comments out and instead focus on what the other side is saying that can be a source of power for us.

We always have to remember that when we are negotiating we are in control. Yes, the other side may be throwing a lot of negative comments our way about our proposal, but we need to keep in mind that that is their job. We need to be selective in what we choose to hear and only pick out the things that can help our position. The next time you negotiate, use your ears carefully!

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

Question For You: When you are hearing a lot of negative things from the other side, what can you do to clear your mind so that you can hear what you want to hear?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

When we have something to sell, we end up working with a buyer sitting on the other side of the table from us. That person has one job in the world – use negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to get us to lower our price and throw in as many concessions as they can possibly get us to make. Our job, of course, is to resist what they are asking us to do. Buyers have tactics to get what they want and they’ll use them on us. We need to be aware of their tactics when they are used against us.