Negotiation Tactics for Uncovering Black Swans in Conversations


Getting the negotiation outcomes you’re aiming for starts with uncovering the Black Swans in the deal.

Simply put, Black Swans are the small, hidden things that have the power to change everything once you know what they are. When you uncover these Black Swans, you flip the script and change the entire game.

But how exactly do you find Black Swans? Use these four negotiation tactics next time you sit down at the table to discover what’s lurking beneath the surface.

Negotiation Tactics for Uncovering Black Swans in Conversations


1. Stay curious.

When you’re not curious, you’re not going to ask the right questions. On the flip side, when you consciously decide to stay curious and commit yourself to learning more, it’s only a matter of time before you start asking the questions that lead to Black Swan discoveries.

If you’re not naturally curious, you have to remain cognizant of that fact and make an active effort to stay curious. As you talk with your counterpart, search for the why behind their words.

2. Practice active listening.

It won’t matter how curious you are if you’re not listening to the words your counterpart is saying. To uncover Black Swans, you need to be dedicated and committed to the conversation, and that starts with active listening.

Instead of listening to hear what the other side has to say, active listening teaches you to listen to the intention behind their words. The Black Swan Group calls this listening with Tactical Empathy™, bringing us to our next point. 

[INFOGRAPHIC] Download our infographic to learn the nine crucial negotiation  skills that will give you the edge over your counterpart »

3. Use empathy.

If your goal is uncovering Black Swans in the negotiation, you need to be able to understand your counterpart’s point of view and relay it back to them so thoroughly that they have no choice but to respond with the two magic words: “That’s Right”™. 

This is possible with Tactical Empathy and a combination of Black Swan tools, such as Labels™, Mirrors™, and Dynamic Silence™. With the right approach, you can make your counterpart believe that you understand exactly what they’re trying to say. Because we all want people to understand us at the end of the day. Using empathy can help you ensure your counterpart feels understood, increasing the likelihood of them making a deal with you.

4. Build rapport.

People like to do business with people they like. In the same vein, your counterpart won’t want to talk to you if they don’t like you. Instead, they will shut down and give you the basic information.

On the other hand, if you talk to someone and they feel there is a relationship and they like what they hear, there’s a better chance they will disclose Black Swan information.

Bottom line: Use the skills!

Uncovering Black Swans starts with building relationships and investing time in your counterpart. For the best results, be sure to spend time practicing your skills throughout the day.

It’s all about taking notice of the things around you and staying curious. As you go about your life, engage in conversation with the people you meet using The Black Swan Group’s Negotiation 9™. 

If you’re new to the N9™, check out this infographic to learn more about mastering the science and art of negotiation. 

After learning the nine core skills you need to execute Tactical Empathy, you will be seen as more of a partner and less of an adversary, making it that much easier to uncover Black Swans.

Good luck! 

The Black Swan Group Negotiation 9

Barbara Thomas

About The Author

Barbara Thomas, having joined the team in June 2021 after retiring from three decades of service with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD). During her time with the department, Barbara worked as a patrol officer and was selected to the SAPD Hostage Negotiation Team, where she served for 14 years. She was also assigned to the SAPD Training Academy, where she taught various academic subjects to police cadets. Additionally, Barbara worked undercover while assigned to the Repeat Offenders Program. During that time, she was also assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, where she worked with federal agencies on terrorism-related activities. On top of this, Barbara worked as a recruiter for the SAPD’s Recruitment Unit. Upon being promoted to the rank of Detective Investigator, she was assigned as a Uniformed Evidence Detective where I processed crime scenes. She was then selected to the Crisis Response Team, where she worked as a Family Violence Detective and was also assigned to work with the Joint County and City Domestic Violence Task Force. Prior to and during the beginning of her career in law enforcement, Barbara was an active duty and reserve member of the United States Air Force (USAF) for a combined 14 years of service. In her first job after technical training school, Barbara worked as a jet engine mechanic servicing B-52 Bombers and KC-135 Tankers. She then cross-trained into the intelligence field where she worked as an intelligence analyst.