My Negotiation Secret

04 Feb 2014

My Negotiation Secret

Written by chicceo Published in
When we hit the new year, I decided that 2014 would be a "year of experiments" for me - everything is an experiment and with that comes new behaviors, new beliefs and a new commitment to objectivity. It's been an interesting start to the year and I've realized that being objective is 1) incredibly difficult given we all have a certain amount of experiences and beliefs that we filter all communication and happenings through and 2) is a daily practice in sheer will. 
I run little experiments and watch for outcomes with as much objectivity as I can muster. My experiments include anything from the music I leave on for my pup when I leave the house (does she eat my mail less frequently when I turn on Adele? or The Album Leaf?), to noticing how a conversation with a colleague always goes better when my hair isn't in a ponytail, to offering a car salesman 15% less than he wants to sell for - simply to see if he'll take the deal.
The topic of negotiation has come up a lot and recently a group of fellow entrepreneurs and I were discussing some of their best techniques. Chic CEO's article on the 7 Tips for Negotiation is a great start and encompassed a lot of what we were already discussing - however, there is one thing I always keep in my back pocket, it's the simplest secret, but is a practice of mine on a daily basis and even more so, now that I've started my "experiments." 
The secret: Shutting up. But shutting up for LONGER. 
Saying little as possible during negotiation isn't a big secret - everyone knows that. The secret is doing it for longer to the point of being uncomfortable. And I like to practice it in my everyday life, not just in business - my experiments are getting more interesting ;)
If you know me, you know that I talk... a lot. Whether it's the woman in me, the Aries in me, the CEO in me, or simply just me… it's a fact. However, when I feel like the stakes are high or I get even a tiny tingle in my gut, I immediately remind myself to shut up. And shut up for longer. (Yes! It's hard!) Recently, I was having a discussion with someone who was clearly lying to me. I wasn't even mad - I was fascinated. I wanted to remain objective and not get emotional - calling them out would have created an argument or a dialogue that would have stopped the free flow of information I was receiving. Even though the words weren't true, I was still gaining valuable information by saying as little as possible for as long as possible. I was getting WAY more information than I asked for. Had I spoken, that would have been cut short. Here's the kicker: they were convinced that they convinced me! I'm ok with that because the more information I gather, the better. 
Sun Tzu said:
“Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy's purpose.” 
and Leonardo da Vinci said:
"Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence."
Negotiation isn't as serious as war obviously, however, Mr. Tzu and Leo were correct in saying that being silent puts you in a higher position of power - especially when it comes to structuring a deal. Your counterpart will reveal a ton more information than they intend to just to fill some silence, the silence you happily accommodate them. 
Getting more information than you would have (had you inserted a clever quip or even a "sure, that makes sense") puts you in a position to make a better decision, offer a better deal, counter with a better offer - aka: a better outcome for your negotiation.
Want to make a better deal? Shhh….. and then shhhhhhhhhhh……...



Fantastic advice that I need to work harder to follow. Mums the word!

BRILLIANT, thank you! Diana Oliver Producer/Director Thunderbird Productions /Dallas, Texas

LOVE IT, LOVE IT, LOVE IT. Thanks for sharing!

Yes! You learn more from listening than speaking and knowledge is power.


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