Love the feeling of being corrected
There is often a misunderstanding about who has the advantage or power during the negotiation. Pay attention to the fact that I'm not using the word leverage as we will discuss it further in the coming posts. Often times when I ask my clients about this, they believe it's the one at the table who is talking who has the advantage - since he or she is in charge of where the conversation is going and what information is shared. The fact is the exact opposite.
As smart negotiators we know that negotiation is an information gathering process. And the more we listen, and the counterpart is talking, the more information we gather. Information we can use to our advantage and steer the discussion in the direction we want.
Now there are of course a lot of ways we can gather information from our counterpart and make sure that he or she does most of the talking. Asking question is the obvious one.
But another advice is also to label or call out the underlying feelings, concerns or emotions that you believe is there with your counterpart.
If you believe that your counterpart is angry, stressed, happy, excited, furious, hurt by something you did, or have any kind of assumptions. Your best move is to call it out and label those feelings such as:
- It sounds like you are upset, it sounds like I've must have done something to offend you.
- It seems like you are stressed, is this a bad time?
- You probably feel that this proposal is to expensive, you probably think I am over my head
Try to label as much of the underlying interests and concerns you can. Because if you do, there are mainly two things that will happen. 1). Either your counterpart confirms what you just said, which means you have demonstrated understanding, not only for them put for the situation so you are more likely to build trust and rapport with your counterpart. 2) If you are wrong, make no mistake, your counterpart will tell you. How can I be sure they will correct me? Because we love the feeling of correcting others, it makes us feel powerful and that we have control. That is exactly the feeling we want our counterpart to have. We want to give them the illusion that they are in control.
If you are wrong in your labelling of the situation, they might respond such as:
-"No you haven't offended me, It's just that my boss is putting pressure on me to meet the deadline on Wednesday"
"No it's not that it's expensive, we are just unsure that you can deliver on time".
So even if you are wrong, your counterpart will correct you and that is one of the best things you can achieve in a negotiation as it will reveal very valuable information for you. Information that you can use to your advantage, and to help you bring it home!