In the last post on Vietnamese nail salons, I discussed the power of sharing a story and the social currency it earns. This week’s post let’s cover how to be a good negotiator.
When I think of a negotiator I think of the movie by the same name starring Samuel L Jackson. Here’s the IMDB synopsis of the film,
“In a desperate attempt to prove his innocence, a skilled police negotiator accused of corruption and murder takes hostages in a government office to gain the time he needs to find the truth.”
Do you think about hostage situations when you hear the word negotiator? My goal today is to get you to think about how you are a negotiator. Except we aren’t talking about taking hostages to get your job back.
What do you do when you need time to gain the truth? You need to listen. You need to learn to allow the person you are negotiating with the feel heard, understood, and not pressured to do what you want them to do.
Today I want to focus on the most surprising quotes from “Getting to Yes” by Fisher, Ury, and Patton. Looking over the list the quotes I’ve selected they boil down to the following takeaways:
- Allow others to talk themselves out because this allows them to feel heard and it allows them to speak out their grievances so there is more room to negotiate.
- Know what you want to accomplish before even starting.
- Ask questions instead of making statements.
Now that you know what we’re going to cover, let’s dive right in.
“Allow the other side to let off steam. Often one effective way to deal with people’s anger, frustration, and other negative emotions is to help them release those feelings. People obtain psychological release through the simple process of recounting their grievances.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Sounds easy enough right? Just sit back and let the person talk until they have recounted their grievances. Not so easy to sit back and not say anything is it? It’s even harder not to flinch or defend yourself when they are saying something untrue.
“You offer little little support to the inflammatory substance, giving the speaker every encouragement to speak himself out, and leave little or no residue to fester.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Once the speaker is speaking, do not interrupt. Make space for discussion and get them to feel comfortable around you.
“The cheapest concessions you can make to the other side is to let them know that they have been heard.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Again, just shut up and take the easy win. Once you’ve given them a chance to discuss their grievances they feel better.
“People listen better if they feel you have understood them.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
On top of just allowing them to let off some steam, your ability to let them fully speak out their thoughts will give you super powers.
“They tend to think that those who understood them are intelligent and sympathetic people whose own opinions may be worth listening to.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Be sure to stack your reasons up before you go in for your request.
“If you want someone to listen and understand your reasoning, give your interests and reasoning first and your conclusions or proposals later.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Generate a ton of options before you start trimming the fat and honing in on your wants.
“By looking from the outset for the single best answer, you are likely to short circuit a wiser decision making process in which you select form a large number of possible answers.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
What do you do if the person starts attacking you and blaming you for the problems they are experiencing?
“Recast an attack on you as an attack on the problem. Sit back and allow them to let off steam.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Always stick with questions.
“Ask questions and pause. Statements generate resistance, whereas questions generate answers.” – Fisher, Ury, and Patton
Now that you know how to make people feel comfortable around you because you have heard their grievances, shared that you understand them, and asked them more questions instead of telling them what to do, they will be more willing to listen to your concerns and more open to negotiate.
Have you had a chance to use the suggestions in this post in your life to negotiate with someone? How did it go? Email me, I’d love to hear about it.
Before I share that story, let me tell you another story.
I played music in a band for about 15 years. We toured the east and west coast of America as well as Japan. We even opened for some pretty great bands – Vampire Weekend, My Chemical Romance, and Hot Hot Heat.
Getting up on stage to perform in hundreds of shows should stamp down any fear of public speaking. Or so you’d think. That’s what I thought when I was preparing, or rather, not preparing my speech for my brother’s wedding.
I read a lot of blogs about how to construct a perfect best man speech. I thought the blogs made it look kind of corny and I wanted to come up with something touching and from the heart – something that would be meaningful and would make the attendees tear up because we love each other so much.
The time had come, the ceremony was over, and the reception was in full swing. I clinked my water glass loudly and stood up to give my speech. But the words would not come. I looked out at all of the faces – most of them I knew already. Why was I having such a hard time? I couldn’t breathe, literally.
So I started to take deep breaths. 300 people stared on in silence. You could literally hear me heaving to get more oxygen in. When that didn’t work, I figured I’d do anything to take the attention off my breathing. I must get through this I thought. So I started the speech.
I told a story about how my brother had saved me from a bully in elementary school. Then I heaved some more. My brother looked on, horrified. But he kept encouraging me with his head nods and smiles.
Next I started talking about how his wife was very lucky to have such a solid protector in her life. I made some other comments about him being a solid guy and sat down while the audience reluctantly clapped.
I started to calm down. My face was red. I could feel my face pounding to the beat of my heart. I stood down and the music restarted. I drank a sip of iced water. I knew I had blown it. But I got through it.
Next time I’m asked to give a speech I will follow the rules in Scott Berkun’s book “Confessions of a Public Speaker.”
“The thing speakers obsess about are the opposite of what the audience cares about. They want to be entertained, they want to learn. And most of all, they want you to do well.” – Berkun
Had I taken the time to really consider what was being asked of me I would have prepared more.
“Don’t ask people to listen to something you haven’t listened to yourself. Just do it. You cannot delete an hour of waste time from people’s lives.” – Berkun
Next time I’ll take my phone and set it up to record myself. That way I’ll know how I’m coming across. I’ll have rehearsed the speech, seen it, edited it, and made it better.
“Confidence, not perfection is the goal.” – Berkun
I would have done better to calm myself before the speech. Even the author, a professional public speaker, still suffers from the fear response.
“Since I respect my body’s unstoppable fear responses, I have to go out of my way to calm down before I give a presentation.” – Berkun
Peter Fonda, the famous actor, experienced such stage fright that he would vomit before every single performance.
At least I didn’t vomit on the guests at my brother’s wedding. Hindsight is 20/20.
“Had I known then what I know now. I would have acted differently.” – Les Brown
There’s no going back so there’s no use beating myself up over this poor performance. Bottom line is, even if you’re used to getting up on a stage and entertaining crowds of people, public speaking is a whole different animal. But it doesn’t have to be scary. I should have practiced more. Then I should have recorded my performance and watched it for any places I could edit it.
Then again the guests at the wedding probably forgot about it.
“Most people listening to presentations around the world right now are hoping their speakers will end soon. That’s all they want.” – Berkun
I hope this tale of shame encourages you to take your public speaking seriously and practice, record, view, edit, and practice some more. Contact me if you want to share your public speaking horror story with me. I’d love to commiserate 🙂