“Good negotiators listen for what’s not said, in order to hear words right.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
People’s thoughts give life to the words they use to influence others. Thus, their words move people to actions. As a negotiator, to negotiate better, know how to use words right.
Using His Words:
When engaged in a negotiation, listen to the words used by the other negotiator and the way he uses those words. As an example, he makes the statement, “I only want to address one thing at a time.” Later in the negotiation, if he asks you to address multiple items/situations simultaneously, you can state, “I only want to address one thing at a time.” Citing his own words as justification for your actions will psychologically put him into a state of reflection. Note his body language to discern the effect that your words have on him (e.g. leans back resting towards one side of his body, laying a pen/pencil down/aside, looking up into the air). Any such signals will serve as validation that he’s taking your words into his thought process.
Emphasized and Changing Words:
During a negotiation, the opposing negotiator will emphasize certain words. Listen for them. Through his action, he’s denoting the importance that word has in his thought process. You can use that insight to reposition your negotiation efforts to fit the altering situation based on the way he’s thinking.
As an example, if he begins a statement by saying, “Weeee, I think I can do it.” Note the word choice change from ‘we’ to ‘I’. Plus, note how he drew ‘weeee’ out. While making that change, he was likely considering to what degree he’d have to rely on others. By changing his words, he displayed his belief that he has greater control over producing the outcome in question. That display gives you insight into where he believes his abilities lie in that situation. You can clone it by posing similar questions to move him in the direction of your needs throughout the negotiation. That insight will also allow you to cite his pride of authority and position him as such. Then, if you reach a point of decision and he refers to his need to consult others, remind him of what he’s implied about his authority. Even if he states the situation at hand is above his authority, you will have uncovered his limits.
People say a lot through the words they don’t use. Thus, what’s not said can be more important than what’s said. It too gives insight into their thoughts.
During a negotiation, closely observe the word choice used by the other negotiator to convey his thoughts and offers. Consider what he’s not saying and why he may not be using specific words. If you sense he’s attempting to prevent you from uncovering something, ask him about it. Use the words that you believe he’s not saying and observe his reaction. If his reaction is one of dismissiveness, pay attention. You may have stumbled upon a point that requires greater probing.
When people hesitate, pause, or alter their words, they’re giving you insight into their shifting mindset. That shift represents a change in their thinking. If you’re astute, you’ll observe the cause of that action and use it to advantage the negotiation.
From the way you use words to convey your offers, to the way you use the opposing negotiator’s words to shape his perspective, if you use words right in a negotiation you’ll experience greater negotiation outcomes … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
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