An Italian diplomat, Daniele Vare, once said, “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.”
Think for a moment about how you make important decisions in your life – the decisions that have the greatest impact on your performance at work and your satisfaction at home.
How many of these decisions can you make unilaterally, and how many do you have to reach with others-through negotiation?
Negotiating is a huge part of our lives. We spend a lot of time trying to reach agreement with others, and sometimes, even though we start negotiating in a cooperative spirit, we find ourselves frustrated. Even though we want to get to a Yes, the answer we receive is a No.
In the morning, we may get into an argument with a spouse over vacation plans. You really want to book that trip, and your spouse says, “Don’t be foolish! You know we have no money for it right now.” You get to your office, and your boss interrupts your presentation of a new proposal, saying: “We know that this idea will not work. Next item.” In the afternoon, you bring an already agreed contract to a client for his signature. Your client says: “ I am sorry. My boss refuses to okay the contract unless you give us an additional 30 percent discount.” In the evening you need to return some phone calls, but the telephone company experiences problems and your phone does not work.
Each of us faces tough negotiations with an irritable spouse, a grumpy boss, an inefficient company, kids. Under stress, even nice reasonable people can turn into angry and intractable opponents. Negotiations can be stressful and time consuming.
Broadly defined, negotiation is the process of back-and forth communication, aimed at reaching an agreement with others when some of your interests are shared and some are opposed.
Your job as a negotiator is to clear away the barriers that lie between their NO and their YES of a mutually satisfactory agreement. Here are five steps to achieve that:
Step One: Since the very first barrier to good communication is your reaction. Instead of striking back or giving in prematurely, regain your mental balance and stay focused on what you want. Dissociate yourself from the situation, and imagine yourself observing yourself in the situation. By doing so, you will gain a new perspective on the situation.
Step Two: The next barrier to achieving an agreement is their negative emotions. Behind their aggressiveness may lie anger and hostility. Behind their rigid stance may lie fear and distrust. Your job is to help them regain their mental balance by defusing their negative emotions. To do that, you need to do the opposite of what they expect. Instead of acting like an adversary, you should take their side by listening to them, acknowledging their points and feelings, and showing them respect. If they speak in a low voice, you do too. If they lean on an elbow, you do too. Align yourself with them, sending a subtle message: I am like you.
BE SENSITIVE TO THEIR LANGUAGE. If they are speaking in a colloquial fashion, make your language more colloquial. If they come from a different culture, use a few polite phrases from their language in order to show your interest and respect. Match their “sensory languages,” depending on whether they process information primarily through their eyes, ears or feelings. Pay attention to their accessing cues and respond congruently with their representational systems.
Step Three: Often the barrier to good communication is their positional behavior. They want you to give in, often not knowing other ways to negotiate. It’s natural to feel like rejecting their position, but this will lead them to become more stubbornly attached to their position. Instead, do the opposite. Accept whatever they say and reframe it as an attempt to deal with the issue. You may say, “Tell me more. Help me understand why you want to do that.”
Step Four: Your goal may be able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, but you may find the other side not interested in such an outcome. You may feel like pushing them but this will only make them more resistant. Instead, step into their world. Create a bridge from their position to a mutually satisfactory solution. You need to help them save face and make the outcome appear like a victory for them.
Step Five: If the other side sees the negotiation as a win-lose proposition, they will be determined to beat you. You may be tempted at this point to escalate, however this may lead to costly and futile conflict. The alternative is to educate. Show them that they cannot win by themselves but only together with you.
In your negotiations, accumulate the yeses. The key word in agreement is “yes.” “Yes” is a powerful tool for disarming the other side. Look for occasions when you can say yes to them without making concessions. Say, “Yes, you have a point there.”
Also, get as many yeses as you can from them. If someone says, “Your idea is totally ridiculous,” say “Are you saying you don’t see how my strategy can enhance the productivity of our team within a year – is that what you mean?”
The “yes” transforms a hostile argument into the beginning of a fruitful dialogue.
Written by Anita Kozlowski, Founder of Live With Power NLP Seminars.
Anita Kozlowski is an internationally licensed NLP trainer, therapist, strategic business and success coach. She has used innovative therapy to change lives through a unique system that has been proven to work. As an internationally licensed NLP trainer, she has trained thousands of individuals from all walks of life in pure NLP, for which she has received recognition on three continents.