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The biggest obstacle to your ability to negotiate is your fear of no.
It affects all negotiators, from those who negotiate for a baker’s dozen to those who negotiate a multimillion-dollar deal. No is so powerful that it not only affects your ability to ask for something, it can also take away your ability to use your power. No not only prevents you from using your power, but it also takes power away from you and gives it to the other side. Each time you do not ask because the answer might be no, you give the other side power. Understanding no is the key to your understanding your ability to negotiate. No is not an end to a request. No does not mean that I won’t do what you ask of me. Now, this might be politically incorrect, but No does not always mean no, at least about negotiations. No means you need to ask me differently. Before you can ask me for something, however, you need to know what my strategy is.
Who am I? What do I want from you? What pressures are there on me? You need to know from where I’m coming. Answering these questions and understanding no are the keys that unlock a successful negotiation. If you know from where I come, you will greatly improve your negotiation. And if you know a bit more about me, that is, my negotiating strategy, you will greatly improve our negotiation. Notice, in the last sentence, that I said our negotiation. That’s right. Your power lies in the knowledge you have or the knowledge you can get.
The more you know about the other side, the better our negotiations will be. Your chances of walking away with your targets met and the other side walking away more satisfied with the negotiation greatly improve by knowing from where the other side is coming. I’m asked at every workshop, seminar, book signing, and dinner party I’ve ever attended, “How can making one side a better negotiator enhance the negotiation for both sides?” The answer lies in the satisfaction level you, the educated negotiator, and the other side feel after the negotiations have been completed.
If you make the other side work harder, they might feel better about what they received from the negotiation. And that holds, even if what the other side receives is far less than their original targets and aspiration levels. Make them work harder, make them negotiate more, and they will feel much more satisfied about what they gave up during the negotiation.
Think before you speak.
There’s a significant problem with all negotiations—you have to say something! The simple act of speaking, of conveying an idea, is a major power transfer in any negotiation. Whenever you open your mouth and speak, you give power away. The power transfer is not in what you intended to say, but rather in what you did not mean to say. And you, the negotiator, are not the only one giving away your power. The others you work with give that power —your power— away. Note, I said, “working with,” not working against. Anyone on your side, those on your team, might be giving away your power.
Let’s face it; we like to talk, and we especially like to talk when someone is willing to listen. The person willing to listen, however, might not be someone with your best interest in mind. It might be the competition or the other side with whom you’re about to negotiate. You talk; they listen, and they gain power. If you think before you speak, and you listen when they speak, you and your negotiation will gain power. The first rule of negotiating is to shut up. When you shut up, the other side talks. Here’s the next step. Listen. You have to listen to gain power. What’s the difficulty with the Think Before You Speak rule? Often, I shut up, but I don’t listen. Instead, I think about what I want to say next! I think about my response. I think about, or plan, my argument against what you say. I don’t listen to what you say. I only listen to my internal dialogue, practicing what I will say to you when you stop talking. Don’t do this! Shut up. Listen. Think. Then, respond.
Ask! It’s the simplest trick in the world to get anything, yet nobody really wants to do it.
Why don’t we ask? As I said earlier, we don’t ask nearly enough because of one little word that packs much power—no! We dread hearing it, so we isolate ourselves from it. If we don’t ask, they can’t say no. Before, during, and after every negotiation, you should Ask—those on your team Ask—the other side Ask—yourself By asking those on your team or those on the other side’s team or even asking yourself, three things can happen, and in each case, bringing more power to you. Ask, and you get a—yes! Great. Now, ask for more. That’s right. Don’t stop there; you have them in the Yes Zone. Try for something else. In the following chapters, you’ll discover how even asking for something you do not want could be beneficial to the overall negotiation. Ask, and you get a—maybe. Great, again. Now, work them. Discover if the maybe is a tactic or if the other side just needs to be convinced a bit more. Perhaps they need more time. Continue to ask. Is there something preventing them from saying yes now? Whatever the answer to this question is—brings power to you. Ask and get—no! Not so great, but not bad, either. You’ve discovered something. Perhaps you’re not asking the right way. You see, no is not the end to your request. It might mean that you have to ask differently.
Another secret of negotiation you need to know, is that you need to inspire people, to get their energy moving and flowing towards you, only if they are motivat
- The Secret of Negotiation, Inspire People.
In any negotiation, you want the other side to lower their aspiration levels. It should be a key to your negotiating strategy.
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