We are back to share with you our best suggestions for negotiating. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out part 1 of our negotiation guide. Part 2 of our guide discusses negotiation mirroring!
Instead of Yes or No, Negotiate
There are times when you may not realize that negotiation is even an option. One thing we want you to know is that more often than not, it’s a great option. But nonetheless, you may find yourself in situations where you think your only choice is to say “Yes” or “No.” But instead of yes or no there is a third option: to negotiate. For example, what if someone asks you to work on a project that you have concerns about? Maybe you’re concerned it involves more travel than you want to do. Or it doesn’t involve solving your favorite problems. Or it’s not as optical as you like. (Meaning, it isn’t a visible project. It won’t bring you acknowledgment from the rest of the organization.)
Instead of a reluctant “Yes, alright, I’ll do it.” Or “No, I’m not doing it.” Consider that there’s a price that will make it worth doing it. Even if it’s a very high price, you can determine what that price is and then offer, “I will do it for this price.” Then they can decide if they will say yes or no to your offer, or they may decide to negotiate. This price might be financial, it might be getting on a desired project, or it might involve being moved to a different team. Part of negotiating is identifying what will work for you.
It’s the same with time rather than money on projects. Let’s say that my sister asked me to go away with her to her in-law’s house for the weekend. Let’s say, purely hypothetically, that I didn’t really want to go. I could reluctantly say yes. Or I could say no, but that might not be supportive of my loved one.
But I could also negotiate.
What if I suggested going in the afternoon rather than the morning? And saying I’d like to do a little bit of shopping while I’m there. Or that I will come if it’s okay for me to bring my laptop and if it would be okay if I slipped away to get some work done for a bit of time. This is a compromise. A give and take. It allows me to get some things done and have some breaks from the in-laws but it’s also supportive to my sister.
So, if you find yourself about to say no or not wanting to say yes, switch your negotiating light on. Begin to consider what circumstances would make this work for you. Can you think of a situation, either at work or at home, either about money or time, where you tend to reluctantly say yes or tend to just say no, where you might be able to negotiate instead?
Tactical Empathy and Emotional Intelligence
Empathy is about becoming completely aware of the other side’s perspective, point of view, and take on things. How they see it and what they feel. It’s not an agreement in any way, it’s not compassion and it’s not sympathy. Let’s tactically take what we know to be the case and apply it in our interactions. There are rules of human nature that apply to all humans. It doesn’t matter if you’re a terrorist or a businessperson. And if you can really get at what’s driving someone, then you can change their outlook and their decision-making.
You must understand what their rules are, and you have to respect those rules. You don’t necessarily have to adopt those rules or even agree with them…. but you must understand what they are and respect them. This requires emotional intelligence. The beginning of a negotiation conversation is about building rapport and gaining trust. Be curious about what the other person wants and why.
A common misconception about negotiation is that you must make your case. You must come prepared with the reasons why the other side should make the deal and go along with what you want. You must make your argument. Your value proposition, if you will, and you must lay all that out. This negotiation guide will show you that is not the case. Instead, you need to find out what’s possible and how you need to engage the other side on what their thoughts are so they feel involved in a process and consequently, they will want the deal to happen.
This technique of mirroring is a way to get the other side engaged, to get them to feel like they’re involved, and also, to tease out the information you might not have had otherwise. To gain pieces of information that could make all the difference in the world. So mirroring is a way to let the other person know that you feel empathy for them and understand. It also gets them talking and the information they share essentially presents to you how the deal can work while having them feel more bought in because it came from their ideas. So mirroring is critical in information gathering and having the other side feel bought in.
With negotiation, mirroring is a form of reflective listening. It’s the simple repetition of one to three words, typically the last one to three words of what someone said. But when you get good at mirroring, it can be a few words from anywhere from what they just said. The other person feels listened to, it tends to connect their thoughts in their head for them.
Part of the message it sends to the other person is:
“I heard every word you said word for word but it’s not enough, I still don’t get it.’ And then as the person goes on with a further explanation, they’re going to add more information. It will cause people to go on, elaborate, and use different words giving you more information. It’s a simple technique, so simple that it may not seem possible that it will work. But it does work. The other person loves to know that you are paying attention.
For example, let’s say you are purchasing a used car from someone. You ask them why they are getting rid of it. They say, “I’ve had it a long time, it’s time to let it go.” You mirror by saying: “It’s time to let it go?” And pause to let them tell you more.
Mirroring is also a rapport-building, relationship-building skill. People love when someone is mirroring them; they love the encouragement to go on. There’s an old saying: Interesting people are interested. If you mirror you will be interesting to others because you’re interested in them.
In this negotiation guide, this technique of mirroring can seem awkward at first, so we suggest you practice this in many conversations. In fact, in the next conversation you have, try mirroring the other person and see how that goes. The more you practice this, the more you will see the value of building rapport and trust and getting to understand more about the other person, what’s important to them, and their context.