Getting a negotiation started on the right foot requires three core skills. In this video, learn how practices like small talk and asking open-ended, diagnostic questions help you achieve better outcomes.
- One of the biggest mistakes negotiators make is thinking it's simply a transaction to be made and rushing the process. We make our request, state our case and prepare a string of defenses to convince our conversation partner to see things our way as quickly as possible. In, out, done. The fact is if we rush things, we try to force decisions. We can miss opportunities to find creative solutions to the problems we're trying to solve. So negotiation needs to be slow and relational as opposed to fast and transactional and here are three core practices that lay the groundwork for conversations that lead to agreement.
The first practice is to check in with your conversation partner to make sure they can give you their full attention. Saying something like is this still a good time to talk is a great place to start. The second practice is to get connected. You're having a conversation with another human being so engage in a little small talk. The benefit of small talk is that when you ask questions about kids or sports, weekend plans or a new restaurant that looks promising, it actually releases the bonding hormone oxytocin.
So small talk is like adding a little social glue and that bonding helps set the stage for having a human, relational and potentially more successful negotiation. By far the most important and yet ignored practice of negotiation is asking open-ended or diagnostic questions. Now, these are questions that begin with who, what, when, where, how and why and they're key to unlocking your partner's interests and according to research by social psychologist Adam Galinsky, it was found that 93% of negotiators failed to use diagnostic questions when doing so can dramatically change the outcome.
Now, here's why. When you ask a closed-ended question like is it possible to work remotely on Fridays, you'll likely get a yes or no answer but if you were to turn that into a diagnostic question like what are your thoughts about working remotely on Friday, you encourage dialogue and exploration. So diagnostic questions are most helpful when your requests are met with resistance and pushback. So using the remote work example, if your request is rejected, ask more open-ended questions and that'll reveal the why and what their fears and constraints are and the sooner you know that information, you can start unlocking potential solutions.
In the book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, he suggests that finding out where the nos are buried has at least five benefits. One, no allows the real issues to arise. Two, no protects people from making and lets them correct ineffective decisions. Three, no slows things down so people can freely embrace their decisions and agreements. Four, no helps people feel safe, secure and in control of their decisions and five, no moves everyone's efforts forward.
So slow it down, get connected, ask diagnostic questions and remember that no is the beginning of the negotiation, not the end. Take a look in the Exercise Files for a list of diagnostic questions and start using them not just in formal negotiations but in your everyday conversations. It will change everything.
- Identify the different types of negotiation.
- Distinguish the difference between asking and negotiation.
- List core negotiation practices.
- Explain anchoring and framing for mutual benefit.
- Describe tactical empathy.
- Explain the principles of influence.
- Create an influence plan.
- Analyze conflict styles.
- Recognize contentious negotiation tactics.