3.3 Behavior Traits of Successful Negotiators
Information about the counterpart him or herself can also be gathered by asking open ended questions designed to evaluate their perspective behavioral style approach to a challenge or their own depth of knowledge on the topic. If however you are choosing the path the principled negotiation and seeking to develop trust, work toward a long term relationship and maximize the value of the agreement for all involved demonstration of empathy will be an important behavior. That your counterpart is striving for a win,lose outcome and is not interested in a collaborative approach, then you must develop a set of objective criteria by which to judge the agreement.
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While certain traits are common amongst successful negotiators, certain behaviors are also common. Some of the most common behaviors are listening, questioning, empathizing, and planning. The best negotiators are great listeners. Sometimes better than you would like. It may seem that negotiation is more about your speaking ability than your listening ability but that just isn’t the case. A great negotiator listens to all that you communicate. With and and without words in order to better understand you. What motivates you, what your weaknesses are, and what really matters to you. Of course, you should be doing this as well. Great negotiators listen without planning the next thing. You’ll say when they stop talking. Good listeners use attending behaviour such as eye contact, nodding, smiling, and reacting to what the speaker is saying to demonstrate their engagement. They also paraphrase what the speaker said to check understanding, to demonstrate that they were listening, and to gain agreement on points made. Good listeners are also typically good questioners. You must develop great questioning skills to be a good negotiator. Asking questions, many questions is the bedrock of effective negotiating skills. Negotiators ask questions to gather information about potential points of value to understand what holds to most value for their counterpart, to clarify misconceptions or to understand a point of view or the counterparts intent. You might also ask questions to determine your counterpart’s approach to the negotiation or to engage him or her. If they have put up a wall or sometimes bring a conversation back to a point when it has veered from the issue at hand. Questions can also be used to share information or facts in a nonconfrontational manner. Or to build rapport with your counterpart. Asking high quality questions with a specific purpose will result in much more productive dialogue. Should you expect to come up with great questions on the spot or as a result of what the counterpart just said? Certainly not. You need to plan them. The actual sentences that you speak may be modified or developed on the spot but you should be prepared before any telephone call or meeting with your counterpart to ask the relevant questions. Certainly the first step is to do your research. Read the company annual report. Talk to others who have done or do business with the organization. Look up the key players on LinkedIn and Google. Search press releases and study the company web site. Look for changes in their business plans, organizational structure, or leadership. Learn about partnership agreements, product launches or discontinuations, major clients, office locations and major issues in their market or their client’s markets. Any and all of these subjects could reveal an opportunity to add value. This research will also provide you with material upon which to base opening conversations and topics about which to develop questions. The next step is to plan. For each interaction, determine a goal and develop your plan. Your questioning should be carefully planned before you meet each time. You will be asking questions, lots of questions. Your counterpart should be talking much more than you, asking questions is the single best means of gaining information from your counterpart’s perspective. The more your counterpart is talking and answering your questions, the more opportunities you have to understand what has value from your client’s perspective. There are a variety of question types, each with a specific intent or purpose. You’re probably familiar with the concept of open and close questions. Closed ended questions are used to initiate conversation to gain concession or committment or to confirm deal point. Open ended questions are used for a wide variety of purposes which mostly can be categorized as information seeking. Seeking to reveal. Or influence a person’s perspective or attitude. The most basic open ended question seeks information on a specific topic but doesn’t specify which aspect or in which form. Open ended questions can also be used to expand the scope of a conversation or delve deeper into a particular aspect of the topic. Information about the counterpart him or herself can also be gathered by asking open ended questions designed to evaluate their perspective behavioral style approach to a challenge or their own depth of knowledge on the topic. Open ended questions can also be used to redirect conversation,bring it back when it has gone off track. Demonstrate one’s own knowledge as well as well to build rapport. There should be an agenda for each meeting, whether the meeting is by telephone, over the internet, or in person. That agenda should be based on a goal for the meeting, which will guide your questioning. I spoke before about gathering information. It is wise to do a fair amount of research regarding your counterpart, his or her organization, and the product or service to be negotiated. This research should guide your plan for the meeting and therefore the questions to be asked. In the early stages of your negotiation, your questions will be more broad based and designed to learn more about your counterparts or counterpart. His or her organization and the topic at hand. The type of questions you ask and the style that you ask them can be used as a means of developing trust. Showing concern for your counterpart’s issues and challenges will help you to develop trust and understand just how much value some of these issues represent to their organization. Timing will also be a consideration in your question plan as you consider your counterpart’s needs and feelings. Sometimes you can gain momentum in the direction of agreement by asking permission to ask a question. It is difficult to refuse to answer a question, when asked first if you are willing to answer it. Of course, critical to asking questions is your comfort with silence. Once you have asked the question, stop talking. Do not feel compelled to fill the silence with justifications or clarifications. Your counterpart will let you know if they’re necessary. Prepare for your face-to-face meeting by determining your goal for the meeting. Planning your questions and flow of topics. Start with the broadest scope questions and move to questions with a narrower focus as the conversation progresses. Approach the conversation in a manner that suits the interactive style of your counterpart. Most importantly, once you ask a question, stop talking and listening. While you’re listening, take notes. Not word for word, but the critical pieces. Some responses and information may not seem relevant in the moment, but later might prove to be quite important. When you meet face to face, also be aware of body language. Try to gain an understanding of your counterpart’s thoughts. Watch facial expressions, gestures, mannerisms, distractions, and reactions. These body language cues can sometimes tell you a lot. Assume nothing. Ask questions great negotiators are empathetic towards their counterparts they try to understand all of the issues needs and concerns from the perspective of the counterpart a great negotiator strives to understand the perspective of the counterpart in terms of their role in the organization. The significance of this negotiation in terms of their career, the expectations and limitations that have been applied by the upper management. And which components of the agreement are important, and may even be emotionally charged? The ability to demonstrate this empathy comes from the advanced research and the high quality questions and trust-developing behaviors that have gone before. This demonstration of empathy also dramatically enhances conversations that explore new options and combinations of options. When your counterparts believe you see the issue, from their point of view, they’re more like to listen to your suggestions and proposals. Empathy is typically not a behavior that is thought of as an important behavior, in negotiation. In fact, if your approach is to be for a win-lose agreement,or a hard bargain that it isnt important. If however you are choosing the path the principled negotiation and seeking to develop trust, work toward a long term relationship and maximize the value of the agreement for all involved demonstration of empathy will be an important behavior. Top negotiators always enter a negotiation with a plan. This plan does tend to change quite a bit as the negotiation progresses, but a good negotiator always acts and speaks based on the current plan. I will speak in the next module about framework agreement combatness. Which are an important part of the plan. But there is much more to it. You should plan your timing. Plan your questions. Plan your agenda. Plan the location and the seating arrangements. Plan how you might stall your responses or establish rapport. Plan how you will react to any anticipated emotional outburst or other negotiation tactics and plan how you will protect and enhance your power. In this lecture, I discuss some important traits of successful negotiators as well as their beneficial behaviors. Great negotiators are confident and display great self-discipline. They are also assertive but not aggressive. Patient, curious, creative, and comfortable with analytical reasoning. Behaviors common to great negotiators are deep listening. Planned quality questioning. Empathy and careful planning. Great negotiators also know that there is no correlation between the amount that they speak and the resulted value of the agreement. There is a higher correlation between the quality of their listening and questioning skills to the overall value of the agreement. Then between their speaking skills and the overall value. It is likely that you have a preferred style of interacting with others, and therefore negotiation. You need to acknowledge it and be aware that it may not always be the best approach for every negotiation in which you engage. We each have a tendency to exhibit a certain behavior pattern in negotiation. What we need to be willing to tailor it a little differently. In order to effectively negotiate with certain counterparts, each counterpart will be different and you will need to tailor your approach to the style and personality of that person. To do that, you will need to get to know your counterpart and do your best to access his or her preferred approach to a negotiation. So, what if you’re counterpart doesnt approach negotiations as a win,win endeavor, or you use a principled approach? This may well be tha case and the answer is somewhat situation dependant. However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you may be able to encourage the other person to adopt a principled negotiation style by modeling appropriate behaviors. Do not immediately change your approach if your counterpart’s initial approach is negative, hostile or aggressive. Stay on the high road. Being professional and polite, asking questions and ignoring hostile statements and actions at least initially. Be insistent that the conversation focus on interests not positions, and be clear that your goal is to maximize the benefits for both parties. Also, if it is clear that your counterpart sees only a single pie to be divided. That your counterpart is striving for a win,lose outcome and is not interested in a collaborative approach, then you must develop a set of objective criteria by which to judge the agreement. Change the focus of the conversation to how you will determine if the agreement is sound in the interest of both parties. Such a conversation takes the focus off of positions and turns it to interests and outcomes. Stark and Flaherty offer a list of 100 tactics and the best response to them in their book, The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need. If you’re struggling with a particularly difficult counterpart. I encourage you to consult this book and develop a planned response to your counterpart’s tactics. This module focused on the people, on both sides of a negotiation and some of their most beneficial traits and behaviors. It is worth your time to reflect introspectively about your own approach to negotiation. And how you can further develop it to your advantage. Also consider reviewing some of the additional resources for this module. Take time also to review the videos and the interview to follow.
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