The Art of Negotiation
Want a bigger paycheck? A better marriage? How to get what you want at the conference table or the kitchen table.
- Listen First "There's a saying among negotiators that whoever talks the most during a negotiation loses," says Bobby Covic, author of Everything's Negotiable! Being the first one to listen is crucial to building trust. Just getting the listening part of a negotiation right can satisfy many of the core concerns Shapiro cites.
However, listening—really paying attention to what the other person has to say—is hard. Gregorio Billikopf, a negotiator for the University of California system, offers several good listening practices:
- Sit Down
This signals to the other person that time will be spent to hear their side. Never ask someone to talk if there isn't enough time to listen.
- Find Common Ground
Approach the other person by talking about a neutral topic of mutual interest—say, baseball or knitting. It helps both parties relax and starts the flow of conversation. Transition to the problem by saying, "I want to talk about an issue important to me, but first I want to hear what you have to say about it."
- Move In
Leaning in to the conversation indicates interest. Head nods also help in letting the other side know their thoughts are being followed. But constant nodding or saying "right" over and over will seem insincere.
- Keep Your Cool
Experts agree on ground rules for communicating problems—no yelling and no walking away.
- Be Brief
Don't go on and on, says Billikopf. He also suggests avoiding words such as "we disagree," a phrase that throws a person to the defensive.
- Forget Neutrality
Trying to control your emotions usually backfires, says Shapiro. The other person can read anger and frustration in a wrinkled forehead or a tense mouth, and negative emotions ruin negotiations. Instead, mine the situation to find whatever positive emotions can be brought to the table—like letting a spouse who's fallen behind on his end of the chores know that his hard work is admirable and the extra money he's earning is appreciated.
- Avoid Empty Threats
Intimidation can be powerful—but use it sparingly. Empty threats will diminish the other person's respect for you.
- Don't Yield
Caving on important issues may seem noble, says Billikopf, but it ruins a relationship. "You're not asking the other person to consider your point of view," he says. Instead, look for compromises. Compromise is like stretching. Stop doing it and pretty soon there's no way to bend at all