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Monday, October 1, 2018

These Tactics can win a Negotiation, According to an FBI Agent

1. Mirror words selectively. Repeat the last one to three words your counterpart just said back to them. This is one of the quickest ways to establish a rapport and make your counterpart feel safe enough to reveal themselves. The beauty in this is the simplicity. People love this. Use it with what I like to call the “late night FM DJ voice” and upward inflecting (sounds like a question). Tactics like this will slow the conversation down for you and allow you more time to think.
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…” and “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. Expressing—and not denying—accusations they may be harboring (no matter how ridiculous) keeps them from festering.
3. Get to a “no.” Being pushed for “yes” makes people defensive; they fear a trap. Lawyers actually have a name for this—they call it “cornering.” Who wants to be cornered? 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 your counterpart feels and what they want. A great summary that will trigger a “that’s right” will be done based on feelings and passions that are driving them but that they may be blind to. This creates a subtle epiphany and simultaneously confirms that they share empathy with you.
5. Create the illusion of control. The secret to gaining the upper hand in a negotiation is to give the other side 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.
Whether we notice it or not, we spend our days negotiating for something: for our spouse to do more housework, a child to eat just three more bites or go to bed on time, an extended deadline on a project, a salary increase, a better rate on a vacation package. In fact, our careers, finances, reputations, love lives and even the fate of our kids at some point hinge on our ability to negotiate. By using the techniques above, ones grounded in emotional intelligence, rather than the classic approaches based in logic and reason, you’re guaranteed to have the competitive edge in any discussion.
Chris Voss is a former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, founder, and CEO of The Black Swan Group and author of Never Split the Difference.