“One way to overcome the loss of trust when negotiating is not to lose it in the first place.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
Trust is the hidden variable when negotiating that possesses silent power in the negotiation. Once trust is lost, a negotiation takes on a persona from which it may never recover. Thus, depending on the severity of lost trust, it may be the death knell of the negotiation.
There are multiple factors that play a role in regaining trust when it’s lost. The implementation of those factors are directly tied to how you wish to proceed from the point of disruption, the outcome you seek from the negotiation, time factors related to future events, and any mitigating circumstances that may cause you to engage/disengage in/from the negotiation.
This article will give you insights as to how you can overcome the loss of trust when you negotiate and turn your efforts into winning actions.
Point of Disruption:
Be observant as to how trust is being evaluated during the negotiation. Such signs will be conveyed through the possible reluctance to believe, follow, or acquiesce to a request and/or concession. Once you sense such hesitancy, address it right then. Don’t let a possible festering thought about trust linger. If you do, you may be setting up the rest of the negotiation to be addressed from a deeper entrenched position on both sides.
Be crystal clear about the outcomes sought by you and the other negotiator. To the degree you have commitments, shine a bright metaphoric light on those agreements and make those commitments known to stakeholders with lots of fanfare. As an aside, be mindful of whom you show the commitments so that they don’t tear them down. In a best-case scenario, you tie/lock the other negotiator to the commitments he states he’ll abide by. Also, limit finger pointing, gloating, and be aware of your verbiage when highlighting agreed on commitments. The wrong word(s), gloating, and/or finger pointing can easily lead to the unraveling of a commitment. To ensure that commitments will be adhered to, discuss with the other negotiator how they will be conveyed when presented to the outside world.
Time Factors and Future Events:
You should always consider the time factor and how today’s negotiation will impact future events. To that end, to restore lost trust:
- Sign-off on agreements at specific points in the negotiation and wait to see if deliverables are made
- Know hidden power players and their possible reaction(s) about the direction of the negotiation
- Have contingency plans in place to persuade power players to positions that are advantageous to you
There are mitigating circumstances that can encompass any negotiation. Such can be caused by the misperception of a word, a misperceived gesture, or just a dislike amongst the negotiators. If you’re aware of any mitigating circumstances that may cause the negotiation to be headed to the negotiation graveyard, consider changing negotiators. New negotiators can see the negotiation through new eyes.
A loss of trust can be a silent death knell in a negotiation but that doesn’t have to be so. The best way to offset its occurrence is to be as forthright as possible as you engage in a negotiation. Of course, that forth righteousness is a two-way street that the other negotiator must also be willing to traverse. Use the suggestions above to offer him the opportunity to do so … and everything will be right with the world.
After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d really like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
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Remember, you’re always negotiating.
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