August 23, 2017

Negotiations: Tips for When Things Get Tense

It’s the rare deal that doesn’t have at least some tense moments during the negotiation process.  This Nixon Peabody blog has some tips from a psychologist on how to keep your deal on-track when the going gets tough.  Here’s an excerpt that makes the point that soft words turn away wrath:

Most of us have an internal alarm that goes off when it feels like someone is imposing their will on us. We instinctively react by digging into our point of view, pushing back with an equal amount of force or checking out of the conversation altogether. This is far from ideal when the hope is to reach a shared agreement.

Softening your message slightly can help to re-engage the other person in the dialogue. You don’t have to change to a weak argument or abandon your perspective. However, by using statements like, “In my opinion…,” “It appears….,” or “I’m wondering if….”, you demonstrate that you are open for a dialogue and willing to hear another person’s perspective. Make sure to present things as your point of view, not as a universal fact.

The blog makes the related point that it’s important to keep in mind the difference between coercion and negotiation when it comes to your approach. It also recommends starting the conversation with areas on which the parties agree, and stresses the importance of paying attention to the “mood in the room” during negotiations.

John Jenkins