Effective communication is essential to having a productive negotiation and communicating intentionally will help you to achieve your goals. At its core, communication in negotiation consists of:
- The messages you want to convey
- How you want to convey them
- The messages other parties are trying to send
- How you interpret them
In-person communication is often the most effective way to work towards an agreement, but messages can also be conveyed in phone calls and emails. Additionally, signals are sent by the way documentation is shared or exchanged. For example, if an employer quickly follows up with a contract after an interview they appear to be signaling that they are eager to hire you.
Non-Verbal Communication & Active Listening
In-person communication is often more effective because it allows you to send messages in a variety of ways and to create nuance that is absent from phone calls and written communication. Between 70% and 95% of all communication is non-verbal and conveyed through body language like posture, stance, proximity to the listener, and eye contact. Body language also includes volume, tone, and speed of your speech.
Active listening is the art of concentrating on, understanding, responding to, and repeating what another person is saying. You need to understand what others are saying and respond with nonverbal messages that are appropriate to the content of their messages. If someone is telling a sad story then you might look somber or concerned and if they try to break the tension with a joke you might respond with a smile or laugh. You should give the other person the opportunity to make their point, while also asking specific, clarifying questions that ensure you are understanding what they are trying to say. Once they have finished making a point, you want to repeat back what you heard them say. Using phrases like, “what I heard you say was…” or “as I understand your position…” give you the opportunity to ensure that you respond to the point they intend to be sending.
Accounting For Your Assumptions
Unspoken assumptions are a common cause of misunderstandings. It is important to ask yourself, what are my assumptions about the other parties in the negotiation? This will allow you to identify the way these assumptions are affecting your own interpretation of what they other side is saying or doing. For example, if you think the salesperson is only trying to get you to upgrade the stereo system in a car because it will add to her commission, you might discount the actual benefits of the stereo system and how it would improve your car owning experience.
Go First Or Wait For Them To Start?
In 75% of negotiations, both parties are waiting for the other party to go first: do you think it’s better to let them start or go first yourself?
It’s better to go first in a negotiation because it allows you to take advantage of a cognitive bias known as anchoring. During negotiations, anchoring biases the negotiation towards whatever initial value is proposed; the first proposal becomes the point of comparison for all future discussion.
No matter the size or type of negotiation, it is important to spend time preparing for it. Effective communication is essential to helping you get the best deal so before you enter make sure you can answer following question:
- What messages do I want to send and how do I want to send them?
Learning to consciously think about negotiating will allow you to better navigate everyday life. You can learn the elements of negotiation by signing up for our free email series.
In just one week you will learn how to understand each party’s interests, generate options to maximize value, leverage standards and alternatives as power, maintain productive relationships, and effectively communicate your intended messages.
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