Who hasn't had to negotiate? A child who doesn't want to go to bed, a teenager who wants to break curfew, or maybe an employee that does not want to stay over to meet a deadline? We are all faced with negotiations every day. What if there was a way to win more often? Practicing the following skills can help you reach win-win agreements more often.
Perspective taking is the art of walking in someone else's shoes. There are two ways to gain perspective into someone else's world. The first is to engage in physical perspective taking, this is to literally walk in someone's shoes. Think of the reality show "Wife Swap" where wives trade families and live in each other's homes. Another example is the reality show "Dirty Jobs" where the show's host, Mike spends a day working in other people's dirty jobs. If swapping your spouse, or crawling in a sewer does not sound appealing, you might want to practice visual perspective taking. Visual Perspective taking is the act of envisioning a person's world in your mind's eye. When we practice the skill of walking in someone else's shoes, we gain a better understanding of their world. We can use the information learned by perspective taking to structure our message to align with their goals.
Most of us are guilty of passive listening. We hear, but not listen. Maybe we are texting, typing, or scanning our Linkedin feed. We think we are pretty good at it, but the speaker knows we are not really listening. A better way to listen is active listening. Active listening takes full attention, focus, and can be reinforced by using verbal and non-verbal gestures like nodding in agreement or answering Hmm, I understand. Another type of listening is reflective listening. This is when we take the information we hear and repeat it back to the speaker for greater understanding. It is more of a dialogue than a monolog.When we practice active and reflective listening together, we give the speaker the greatest compliment of our attention.
Another tool for effective negotiation is preparation. When we do research before we negotiate we gain knowledge for negotiations. Lets pretend for example you went to a job interview and the employer asked the dreaded question; what did you make at your last job? If you did your research on the salary for this positon you might answer; the range was between 18-24 dollars per hour. This might get you a raise from your last job. If you did not do the research, you might blurt out 18 dollars per hour!
Taking a Position
It is important not to take a position when in negotiations. When people take positions, they tend to polarize and become adversarial. A good example of this was the last election. When people discuss ideas there is room for change and negotiation, when people take a position, they will fight to the death to defend it. Try to think of it this way, "be hard on the problem- soft on the person.
Asking the "why" behind the reason
When you ask the question why you learn new information that can be used to create solutions both parties can agree on. For example, let's say you are negotiating the price of a home. The buyer wants to pay x, and you want to get z. What if you ask why the buyer only wants to pay x? The buyer shares they need to buy a lawnmower with the extra money. You are moving to a place where there is no grass to mow and you have a lawnmower you don't want or need. What if you throw the lawnmower into the deal? You get the price you want, he gets a lawnmower and everyone's happy. All this from asking the question- Why?
Practice the skills of perspective taking, active and reflective listening, preparation, not taking a position, and asking the why behind the reason and you will gain greater understanding and come away with more win-win agreements in your next negotiation.