Article Contributed by Kevin Ryan, an international speaker, workshop leader and author with Training Edge International.
Negotiation is one of the most important ways we communicate as humans. Disappointingly, though, the latest research shows that in negotiations between people who are pushy and aggressive and those trying to be nicer and more accommodating, the first type still tend to win. So, is the answer that you have to become an aggressive negotiator, devouring all in your path, dismissing relationships to get the best deal? If you take this path, you’ll end up with a list of impressive-looking deals made with disgruntled parties whose main aim is to make your life difficult and ensure you get the absolute minimum value.
There is another way – be assertive, not aggressive. Assertiveness allows you to state and maintain your interests strongly, yet still maintain a good relationship. Rather than forcing them into a corner, you are holding your position and enticing them to come towards you. To do this you need to be persuasive.
Use the Science
Persuasion is a science, not a dark art practised by sleazy salesmen. The research has been going on for over fifty years, although for many years it was hidden in the pages of academic journals. It was first bought to the broader populace by Professor Robert Cialdini (University of Arizona) in 1984 in his book ‘Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion’ where he explained his six tools of persuasion. As an indication of how much the body of knowledge has grown, his next book on the subject in 2008 was entitled ‘Yes: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive’.
Persuasion Needs Confidence
Just like all the football skills and knowledge in the world won’t make you a great player without strength and fitness, no persuasive technique will work unless used with confidence. To do this, you need:
- Enough knowledge of them to be confident you have chosen the right technique. This is what makes it extremely difficult to persuade anyone you’re meeting for the first time. Spend time at the start getting to understand them – at least a little – before you choose which technique you’ll use. As a simple example, on one hand you might push the logic in the figures, on the other you might try and appeal to their emotions.
- The personal confidence to say it assertively. You have to deliver the lines powerfully while looking them in the eye. Research by Amy Cuddy (Harvard Business School), Dany Carny(UC Berkley) and Andy Yap (Columbia University) showed that by simply standing or sitting up straight in a powerful pose for two minutes can increase your assertiveness hormone and lower your stress hormone. Try it before you walk in to the negotiation.
One way to build your confidence is to offer advice. Professor Michael Schaerer of Singapore Management University together with colleagues Leigh P. Tost,
Li Huang, Francesca Gino, and Rick Larrick found that you can build your confidence by giving advice to others. You can take this to its limit by offering advice to the other party. Outrageous as this might seem, it’s a powerful disrupter and moves you away from the role of adversary into that of someone trying to work with them to find the best deal for both of you. As a simple example, you could try a line like, “If I could offer you some advice – you’re most likely to get the best deal from us if you…”
Make sure science is on your side, giving you the strategies that allow you to be assertive without being aggressive. The tools of persuasion should be in every negotiator’s toolbox.
For more information
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