No big deal: Top tips to ace any negotiation
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No big deal: Top tips to ace any negotiation

No big deal: Top tips to ace any negotiation

Ten effective tips on negotiation from a former FBI hostage negotiator and the author of ‘Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It’

Chris Voss

From as subtle as a promotion to as critical as bilateral government treaties, establishing a win-win solution is the key to successful and skilled negotiation, holding the potential to overcome differences that have stood in the way of progress for the world’s most pressing issues.

Negotiation is a process of discovery with the goal to uncover as much information as possible. Often described as the art of ‘letting the other side have your way’, skilled negotiation is rooted in ‘tactical empathy’, which encompasses a variety of strategies, all of which are designed to build good faith and give your counterpart the illusion of control.

When people feel fully heard, they bond with you, they are more inclined to tell the truth and they more strongly feel they already have what they need. These are the elements for long-term deals that both sides adhere to. Here are simple communication strategies to help you become a more effective negotiator and achieve success when closing deals.

01. Let them go first
Until the other side has shared their terms, they haven’t committed yet. Once they name their price, no matter what it is, they’ve admitted there is a deal to be made. It’s an emotional threshold they’ve crossed.

02. Listen with curiosity
To close deals faster, practice active listening. Make the negotiation more about the other side by asking questions that help you understand their situation.

03. Reassure them with your body language
Body language is active listening personified. To get your counterpart to be more comfortable with you, lean towards them and turn your head to show them you are trying to listen more intently by facing your ear in their direction. This will make them feel like you understand them.

04. Smile when speaking
Smiling during a negotiation will likely calm down the other person and tamp down their emotions, making them more amicable.

05. Summarise their “because”
Summarise the world according to them in your words with the goal to recap your counterpart’s situation so effectively that they can only respond in one way: “that’s right” — it signals that you understand them and also builds trust.

06. Encourage them to correct you
People love to correct, and it also encourages openness, engagement and collaboration. Try asking “Am I wrong in saying X or Y?” to give your counterpart the opportunity to correct and explain.

07. Get away from “yes”
Just because someone says yes, doesn’t mean you have an agreement. A “yes” is nothing without a “how”, so ask questions beginning with “what” or “how” to understand how exactly your counterpart sees things moving forward.

08. Encourage “no
People prefer to say “no”, as “yes” is a commitment that makes people feel uncomfortable. Ask a ‘no-oriented’ question such as “Would you be opposed to X?” to move conversations forward.

09. Don’t explain, argue, or disagree
The key to empathy is no denials or disagreements. You need to make the other side feel heard.

10. Always think in the context of a long-term relationship
Practising the above will make your counterparts feel heard and it will build trust, encouraging people to continue collaborating with you for the long term.

Chris Voss will be speaking at the Global Citizen Forum’s Annual Summit, being held in Ras Al Khaimah on November 16 and 17.  He will talk about how skilled negotiation and simple communication strategies can not only help you become a more effective negotiator, but also be the key to overcoming differences that have stood in the way of progress for the world’s most pressing issues.

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