The key to any negotiation is getting the other side talking. That’s one of the purposes of small talk. To establish rapport. To get the conversation going. To get them talking about the things they’d love to trust you with, but are hesitant to. To get them to spill the beans.
Two weeks ago, I attended the SaaStr 2017 conference in San Francisco. It was a collection of Software- As-A-Service start-up CEOs, CFOs, COOs as well as marketing and sales geniuses. They meet once a year to network, listen to speakers and view/sell the latest products. These attendees, by my limited observations were all 30 to early 40-somethings; all wicked smart and extremely successful. I was clearly one of the dumbest guys in the room.
Individual “signals” can be faked. “Signals” are choices of words, changes in tone of voice, body language changes (“flinches”) or things often referred to as “tells” .
So, you’re really looking to triangulate signals.
There comes a time in almost every negotiation where we may get a counterpart that is trying to influence our decisions by making an ultimatum type offer (take X or this bad thing is going to happen to you). Sometimes it may be something they say out of desperation, other times they were going to hit you with it one way or another. At the end of the day, everyone we meet in a negotiation has a plan of attack. Even if you're only information going into an interaction is a cold read, you can start to draw lines between what they may want and why. Usually the reasons for coming to the table that are more than what appears on the surface. If you go into an interaction thinking the other side has only one reason for being there than you are sorely mistaken. There are always things going on in the other side's position, the way they operate as a team or company that has brought them to the table. If we take a real honest look at the reasons they would take a certain position, we can start to form a statement summary that defines their approach, consequently removing all the reasoning for cementing themselves over a certain point.