These 9 negotiation strategies for success are based on my upcoming book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended.
1. MIRROR WORDS SELECTIVELY
One of the quickest ways to establish a rapport and make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves is with a laser-like focus on what the other party has to say. Use tactics like slowing the conversation down, repeating their words back to them, allowing for silence and changing your tone of voice (try the “late night FM DJ voice”)
2. PRACTICE TACTICAL EMPATHY
Demonstrate to your counterpart that you see the nuances of their emotions. Proactively label their fears. Phrases like “It sounds like you are afraid of…” “It looks like you’re concerned about…” go a long way in disarming them. Also, list the worst things that the other party could say about you and say them before they can.
3. GET TO “NO”
Being pushed for “yes” makes people defensive, but saying “No” makes the speaker feel safe, secure, and in control, so trigger it. Ask no-oriented questions, like: “Is now a bad time to talk?” and “Have you given up on this project?”
4. TRIGGER “THAT’S RIGHT”
The moment you’ve convinced someone that you understand their dreams and feelings is the moment a negotiation breakthrough can happen. Trigger a “that’s right” response by summarizing and reaffirming how they feel and what they want.
5. RESIST COMPROMISE
Frame the conversation in such a way that your counterpart will unconsciously accept the limits you place on the discussion. Navigate deadlines to create a sense of urgency and anchor your counterpart’s emotions so that not accepting your offer feels like a loss.
6. CREATE THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL
Don’t try to force your opponent to admit that you are right. Ask questions, that begin with “How?” or “What?” so your opponent uses mental energy to figure out the answer.
7. GUARANTEE EXECUTION
Don’t let your work fall apart when you’re close to securing a deal: Identify the motivations of the players “behind the table” and spot liars by paying attention to body language; test if your counterpart’s “yes” is real by getting them to reaffirm their agreement at least three times. Use your own name and humor to break tension and show your human side.
8. BARGAIN HARD
Identify your counterpart’s negotiating style, prepare, prepare, prepare, and steel yourself to take a figurative punch. These practices will give you the confidence you need for a tough conversation.
9. FIND BLACK SWANS
To uncover the “Unknown Unknowns” work to understand the other side’s position and worldview. Find common ground with them, and get some face time. These tactics will help you dig deeper and uncover the hidden variables of the situation.