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Master The Art Of Negotiation

By on September 1, 2014

Did you know that putting a great negotiation together and knowing it by heart is only half of the battle?
What you communicate with your words is paramount to your success, but it’s half of the message you’re sending. Your body language is sending the other half.
If you neglect the non-verbal element of your negotiation, there’s a big chance you might walk away disappointed, wondering why your brilliantly crafted plan didn’t deliver the results you were expecting.

We’ve rounded up a few messages that your body (or that of your counterpart) is sending out loud and clear. Use them to your advantage to gage how your negotiation is really going and to make sure your verbal and non-verbal language is sending out the same message.

Still interested and engaged

Per definition, a negotiation is a dialogue where two opposite parties are given the opportunity to lay their side of the story on the table; and convince the other party of the merit in their respective desires.
One of the main keys of a successful negotiation lies within this definition: to convince. And in order to convince anyone of pretty much anything, they need to be interested in what you have to say.

Here are a few tell-tale signs that you’ve done exactly that. And remember to use them to send the same message to your counterpart.

Nodding: If your counterpart is nodding his head up and down while you’re speaking, it means that he’s agreeing with what you’re saying. Although this might seem obvious, you’d be surprised as to how often this happens subconsciously.

Making eye-contact: Looking you square in the eyes suggests that your counterpart is demonstrating openness towards you, that he or she has nothing to hide and that they’re interested in what you have to say.

Smiling: Getting the other party to genuinely smile means that you’ve succeeded in establishing a friendly atmosphere (which is incredibly important), and which acts as the perfect foundation for a successful outcome.

Leaning forward: When your counterpart leans forward while you’re talking, think of what you just said. Chances are it was something that particularly sparked their interest, which you could later use to your advantage.

Relaxing: If you are in a formal setting and your counterpart leans back to unbutton his jacket, it’s a clear sign that he is relaxed and willing to listen to your arguments.

Turning into frustrated and uninterested

The very last thing you want the other party to be is frustrated and uninterested. You can be so close to achieving the results you were looking for, but neglecting to read the signs of frustration could lead to that open door slamming shut.

The moment that happens, do everything you can to get the negotiation back on track. A key way to do so is to pay extra attention to your body language and make sure it sends a reassuring message – keep eye contact, keep your face friendly and lean forward instead of pulling back.

Here are a few clear signs of frustration to look out for:

Clenching fists: We only do this when we are immensely frustrated. Take note of what you just said and find a way to either clarify your statement or communicate it in a different way.

Zoning out: If your counterpart stops looking at you and looks in a different direction with a hazed-over look on his or her face, you know that you’ve lost them. Reiterate a key point in your argument where you know you still had their attention, and try to hook them again.

Tapping fingers: Having your counterpart tap his or her fingers on the table while you’re talking not only throws you off your game, it suggests genuine boredom on their side. Ignoring it could springboard boredom into frustration, so make sure to read the signs and change your strategy.

Touching nose and ears: If you ask your counterpart a question and while replying he touches his nose and ears, this could mean that he either has something to hide or that he’s being untruthful.
However, to make sure that he wasn’t simply scratching an itch, rephrase the question later on in the negotiation and see if you get the same response.

Crossing arms: The moment your counterpart crosses his or her arms, it means that whatever you have just said has caused them to go from open and interested to closed and doubtful. Take note and reassess your argument immediately.

Grabbing the table: This one is pretty obvious and hard to ignore even if you try. If your counterpart stands up, stretches out his or her arms and grabs the side of the table, you’ve just said something to infuriate them. In this case you have two options: if possible try to rectify what you have just said. If not, run for the door!

By now, seriously stressed-out

Some individuals simply find certain negotiations more stressful than others. It often depends on what side of the table you’re sitting on – the more senior or junior role you have. But it also comes down to the amount of experience one has. Either way, it’s crucial that your counterpart feels as comfortable as possible for the negotiation to be of any value.

Here are some crystal clear signs that indicate a serious amount of stress that needs to be alleviated once identified.

Fidgeting constantly: Clicking a pen once or twice is one thing, but doing so non-stop is something quite different. Try to focus your counterpart’s attention elsewhere by offering him or her something to drink.

Licking their lips: If your counterpart is continuously licking his or her lips, it means that their mouths have dried up due to a rapid increase of stress. Once again offering them something to drink is a good way to solve the problem. But also pay attention to your tone and make sure that you’re not coming across in the wrong way.

High-pitched, stuttering speech: The moment you realise that your counterpart is struggling to maintain a normal consistent tone, change the subject and take a break. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can go back to having a valuable conversation.

Interlocked hands: When your counterpart is desperately clinging to his or her own hands, chances are they’re doing their best to keep a handle on their emotions. Call a quick bathroom break and give them a couple of minutes to regain control and perspective.

Knowing how to use your own body language and how to read the body language of your counterpart will not only give you the upper hand in negotiating, but make you a better communicator in all aspects of your life.

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