Most executives, CEOs, and business owners in general excel at assessing options, preparing, and establishing an authoritative position. Nevertheless, several of their communication choices are not really the most inspired. Negotiations begin with the interchange of information, and many see this process like a challenging poker game—why should I reveal what I have in my hand before I can see what you have in yours?
Selective information sharing
Most business people are matchers, in the sense that they respond very well to reciprocity—they value trust and the only way to gain it is by showing it. It’s only natural to be respectful with those who treat you the same way. If we want to be given valuable information in a negotiation, we must lead by giving away information, too.
However, this doesn’t mean revealing facts that could make you seem vulnerable. Surprisingly, many people fall into this trap and they give up too much. Rather than be one of them, use a technique called
“selective information sharing.” It’s all about revealing details that can’t be used to harm you or your business.
For example, negotiators can opt to reveal some personal information about themselves; something like their favorite sport, hobby and so on. This will make an opponent relate to that fact. He may even share something as well. Revealing personal information helps business people create connections out of the business cycle and close deals without having to feel pressured.
Rank-ordering helps opponents understand your goals
Rank-ordering is another effective negotiation technique you can use to win great deals. It is about listing issues and arranging them by importance. Job seekers, for example, want a substantial salary; they want their office to be positioned in a nice location, and last but not least, they care about bonuses and vacation time. Of course, the order can be different, but that depends on the negotiator’s personal preferences.
Studies have proven that rank-ordering is a great way of helping opponents understand your goals and interests without having to reveal a lot of information. When it’s your time to speak, don’t hesitate to ask about their priorities, too. Search for ways to reach a mutual agreement and stay away from conflict. Win-win solutions have so many benefits in a business negotiation; they just have to be used smart in order to help negotiators build long-term relationships.
First offers are the best anchors
Experts agree that first offers are excellent anchors because they launch a negotiation. And yet, when business people first hear an offer, they may have difficulties adjusting their judgments. Sometimes they don’t know what to do: Should I ask for more? Should I keep negotiating? Is the offer exactly what I need? Can I decline? All these questions put them in difficulty, especially if their negotiation skills are not well-crafted.
The good thing is first offers feature some exquisite advantages, too: they signal strength and confidence, and they create the perfect ground to compromise without ending up with a bad deal. Your first offer’s credibility should always be linked to a backup plan. If the opening offer is too much, you risk offending your opponent and destroying the relationship.
In this case, your first-offer technique can backfire if your counterpart is better informed than you. The solution to this common habit is to enter negotiations 100% prepared. Know your numbers and always back a plan B in mind, just in case things turn south.
Making assumptions—always a bad idea
Some business people are used to making assumptions when entering a negotiation. They try to make guesses without assessing the situation, and this may harm their strategies. You can’t assume an opponent is naïve just because he looks naïve. Although first appearances matter, they often give people the wrong impression.
The key to winning negotiations is to adhere to some golden principles; always come prepared in a meeting, never make assumptions, and be respectful no matter what. If your skills are not great, attend negotiation workshops, or get advice from other professionals. Gather as much information as possible and shape a personal style. There are so many bad habits people have in business that they’re almost impossible to control. Be the exception and only stick to the facts if you want to land good deals.
Author: Steve Brown has been a business writer and blogger for more than 15 years. He also writes for a site TheGappartnership.com which provides online interactive tools for planning your negotiations and strategies.
Published: October 24, 2014