How Can We Build Trust In A Negotiation?

We have to build trust when we negotiate
We have to build trust when we negotiate
Image Credit: Mobilus In Mobili

If you want your next negotiation to turn out successfully, you are going to have to be willing to make an investment into it. What you are going to have to do is to find a way to build trust. Trust is something that is critical to any agreement that you will be able to reach with the other side. Your challenge is that we often don’t start a negotiation with a great deal of trust on either side. Trust has to be built. How can we make this happen?

The Power Of Trust

As negotiators we understand that trust in negotiations can develop naturally over time, but we rarely have the luxury of letting nature take its course. Thus it sometimes seems easiest for us to play it safe with cautious deals involving few tradeoffs, few concessions, and little information sharing between parties. However, avoiding risk can mean that we miss out on significant opportunities. For this reason, taking the time to foster trust on the fly is a critical skill for negotiators. The first step to inspiring trust in the other side during negotiations is to demonstrate your trustworthiness. What we need to know are the strategies that that will allow us to influence others’ perceptions of our trustworthiness at the bargaining table.

Speak The Language Of The Other Side

It’s important for negotiators to speak the other side’s language. This principle goes beyond understanding things like technical terms and lingo. It also means catching the nuances and cultural implications behind what’s being said by the other side, and noticing how they use words to convey their ideas. By taking the time to understand the other party’s history, culture, and perspective, you have the ability to send the message that you’re committed to both the negotiation and to the relationship with them. This is an integral step in trust building. This fluency also signals that you are ready to follow through on your negotiated settlement.

Manage your Reputation In Order To Gain Trust

Guess what – in a negotiation, just like all aspects of life, your reputation will precede you. Your bad reputation can be a deal killer from the start, while your great one can help transcend an impasse. Effective negotiators realize that their reputation is not just a backdrop but rather is a tool. How can you go about making your reputation a factor in negotiation? One way is that you might provide references from mutually trusted third parties that vouch for your character and competence. If appropriate, this third party could communicate with the other side prior to the negotiation or even serve as an intermediary during it. Additionally, you can also offer other forms of evidence of past success in similar relationships, perhaps such as media or trade reports.

You Can Make Dependence A Factor In Order To Gain Trust

The more dependent you become on someone, the more willing you’ll be to have trust in negotiations with them. This phenomenon plays out to the extreme in what is called the Stockholm syndrome, in which hostages become so psychologically dependent on their captors that they will trust their captors’ statements and demands more than those of the officials who are attempting to negotiate for their release. During a negotiation we tend to cope with the psychological discomfort associated with any dependence by believing in the trustworthiness of those upon whom we depend. In negotiation, when both parties believe that they need each other to achieve their individual goals and that other options are limited, the good news is that trust between parties will increase. As a negotiator, you can trigger this trust-building process by highlighting the unique benefits that you have the ability to provide and by emphasizing the damage that might result from any impasse. This technique can be particularly useful when a stalemate looms large and alternatives to agreement appear to be either painful or costly. In such situations, a negotiator who senses he has no other recourse may come to trust even someone that he may consider to be his “enemy.”

What All Of This Means For You

In any negotiation that we participate in, we always want to find a way to reach a deal with the other side. In order to make that happen, both sides are going to have to be able to trust each other. The problem that we face is that when we come to the negotiating table, there may not be a lot of trust between the different sides. This means that we need to understand how to go about building trust during a negotiation.

Trust can develop naturally during a negotiation; however, that can take time. As negotiators we will want to move things along quicker. We can make this happen by learning how to go about speaking the language of the other side. We need to understand that our reputation can often precede us into a negotiation and so it must be managed. If the other side does not have any other options, if they are dependent on you, then this is something that can help to build trust.

The good news is that trust is something that we can cause to grow in our next negotiation. With a good understanding of what is required in order to make the other side trust us, we can take the correct steps to allow trust to develop between us. Use the tips that we’ve discussed to build a bond of trust between all sides during your next negotiation.

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

Question For You: Do you think that there is any way to control what the other side thinks that your reputation is before a negotiation starts?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Pressure is a part of every negotiation. We need to understand that when we are negotiating and when we are under pressure, our ability to make good decisions may be compromised. If we can realize this, then we can make sure that we take actions that will prevent us from making bad decisions. However, what we have to learn are safeguards we need to have in place when we make decisions under pressure.