10 Phrases That Reveal (Dangerous) Hidden Negotiations

    

“The most dangerous negotiation is the one you don’t know you’re in.” What hidden negotiations drain your time (your most valuable commodity) each and every day? 

10 Phrases That Reveal (Dangerous) Hidden Negotiations

Here are 10 phrases that expose these embezzlers:

  • “We have to …”
  • “I need you to …”
  • “I think …”
  • “We should …”
  • “You should …”
  • “Let’s think about this …”
  • “How do we …?”
  • “What do you think …”
  • “Here’s what we need to do …”
  • “How can I help you?”

Why? Any communication in which you want agreement, influence, action, referrals, or satisfaction is a negotiation. The commodities of negotiation are information, time, money, cooperation, and happiness—specifically, your happiness.

[INFOGRAPHIC] Are you making one of these Top 3 Negotiation Mistakes? Download »

Hidden Negotiations: Leadership

Communication to guide action will be faster and more effective if you use Tactical Empathy™. What is action if not implementation of your agreement? (“Implementation” = “How”) 

  • “We have to …”
  • “We should …”
  • “You should …”
  • “I need you to …”
  • “Here’s what we need to do …”
  • “I think …”

The Black Swan Method™ Can Accelerate Your Effectiveness

Use The Black Swan Method™ to summarize the problem: “Here’s what's happened so far, here’s the impact it’s had (make certain you include the negative effects it's had on them), and here’s what we’re worried about.”

This past, present, and future orientation shows you are thinking about the issue three-dimensionally. 

It’s a cliche in business that you can’t solve a problem you don’t understand, but this cliche rings true. As a leader, the only way to remove anxiety about whether or not you understand the problem is to articulate what you understand. 

People can’t listen to what you have to say if they’re unsure about whether or not you get it. They will be anxious until they feel you understand, especially in regards to the negatives (e.g., problems, inflicted harms, obstacles, or threats). 

Give them a chance to guide you about what they feel you’ve missed. These are the delays that save time and keep you from spinning your wheels.

The “Should” Trap

Warning! Be particularly wary if the word “should” crosses anyone’s lips. If you say it or hear it, you’re in a negotiation about action. Someone is disagreeing about actions that are or are not being taken.  

  • Disagreement = Hidden Negotiation
  • Action = Implementation = Negotiation

Hidden Negotiations: Teamwork 

Any verbal communication in which you are trying to discover what action should be taken is a negotiation. The Black Swan Method will open your eyes to the fact that negotiation is an information-gathering process.  

Knowledge is power, as the saying goes. Therefore, information is influence. 

  • “Let’s think about this …”
  • “How do we … ?”
  • “What do you think … ?”

The Black Swan Method Can Accelerate Your Effectiveness

A summary would also be effective here.

Alternatively, you could choose to trigger thinking with Labels™: 

  • “This has been frustrating ...”
  • “It seems like you’ve seen this before …”
  • “It seems like you have some thoughts?”

Sidenote: You may have noticed that the first label is in a slightly different form at the beginning—this is a more advanced form (Ri level of Shu-Ha-Ri) of labels The Black Swan Group teaches.

What is a Black Swan? Well, you are.

A Black Swan is not only an innocuous thing that makes a massive difference, but also a person who employs The Black Swan Method to quietly make a massive, positive difference in their own life and the lives of everyone around them.

If you’re seeking collaboration, long-term relationships, or trust—you’re in a negotiation.

Hidden Negotiations: Hospitality and Customer Service

“How can I help you?”

If you’re hoping to provide customer satisfaction by offering a solution to their problem and having them agree to the outcome, you’re in a negotiation.

The Black Swan Method Can Accelerate Your Effectiveness

Do a cold read, also described as gathering data with your eyes. Start with “You look ...”, then follow with an observation: upset, distressed, tired, like it’s been a long day. Make it a genuine observation of what you see—not what you hope to see. 

Labeling any negatives you notice is the fastest, most effective way to deactivate them.

If it's over the phone, make sure you start by using the “late-night FM DJ voice,” then cold read their tone of voice: “You sound anxious.” “You sound upset.” “You sound like you need my attention.”

Summarize their description of the problem back to them, along with how it’s impacted them. This will save time by reducing or eliminating their resistance to your solution. 

  • “So far, you’ve told me …”
  • “Here’s the impact it’s had on you …”

This is also much more effective than: “I’m sorry that happened to you.” “I’m sorry” is only helpful one in three times. Two out of three times, it’s actually an irritant. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re seeking an outcome, you’re in a negotiation

If you’re seeking mutual understanding on an implementation or solution, you’re in a negotiation.

If you’re seeking teamwork, you’re in a negotiation.

When is your next life-changing Black Swan negotiation moment? 

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Chris Voss

About The Author

Christopher Voss is the CEO of The Black Swan Group, a firm that solves business negotiation problems with hostage negotiation strategies. Chris founded the Black Swan Group, in 2008 upon his retirement from the FBI where he was the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. Chris is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business where he teaches business negotiation in both M.B.A. programs.