How to Listen Better to Win More Negotiations
28 November 2017 | 9:59 am
“When asking questions, listen to the response! Be sure to hear the meaning and any hidden meaning in the message you received.” –Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
To win more negotiations, listen better. When you negotiate, how well do you listen? The better you listen, the more negotiations you’ll win.
… but he didn’t answer the question! Good negotiators are very adept at diverting questions that don’t serve their purpose. In some cases, they’ll give superficial responses that appear to answer the question, or like a good magician, draw your attention in another direction without you noticing that they’ve done so.
To enhance the probability of winning more negotiations, listen to how questions are answered, and listen to the words used to represent the answers. In so doing, you’ll gain invaluable insight into hidden meanings and the thought process behind those meanings.
Listen to how questions are answered:
Take note to what degree a question is answered, avoided, and/or modified. As an example, if you ask, “Is that your best offer?” You might receive several responses:
A.) In the past, that’s as much as we’ve paid.
B.) Due to our current ‘situation’, we have a ceiling on the amount we can pay.
C.) Other vendors/suppliers are accepting our price structure.
In each of the above answers, you received a response to your question but what you did not receive was a direct answer to your question. Depending on your alertness or how diligent you wanted to appear, you might rephrase the question, point out that you’d not received an answer to it, or accept the answer given in order to address the situation from another perspective. The course of action you adopt should be aligned with how you wished to position yourself and the person with whom you’re negotiating to enhance your negotiation position.
Listen to the words used to answer questions:
Words are the representation of the thoughts being conveyed. In the above answers, the word choice conveyed additional insight per how that person was thinking. In response ‘A’, the information conveyed is stating, “That’s our norm.” It could also be perceived as, you shouldn’t consider going outside of the norm. Conform to our standards.
In response ‘B’, the subliminal message is, “We’re in a challenging time, please bear with us. Help us by being understanding.” If you acquiesce, you might attempt to acquire chits that can be used in future negotiations. If you do so, attempt to instill in the current negotiation when and how you might use such chits. Keep in mind, you’ll also be setting a precedent to ‘help them’ again in the future, since you did so this time.
Depending on the value of your offer, you could position it so that it’s seen as ‘added value’ that warrants a ‘higher investment’ on the part of the purchaser, or one that you can fit into the current pricing structure because of the reason that’s best suited for the situation and your purpose. The point is, after you’ve gleaned the additional information based on how your questions are answered, you have a better understanding of how to position yourself.
You make decisions based on your interpretation of the situations you’re in. Then, based on your interpretation, you decide how you’ll act and react to situations. Thus, you and only you control your actions in a negotiation. So, to control more of the aspects of the negotiation, listen to the meanings and hidden meanings in the answers given by the other negotiator. Your reward will be in winning more negotiations … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating.