Body Language Secrets to Win More Negotiations - Greg Williams, Pat Iyer (2016)
Chapter 9. Techniques: Creating a Successful Negotiation
Plaintiff attorney Walter Garrett stared across the room at defense attorney Sarah Jenner. Walter’s client Jessica Davis had suffered neck and back injuries, fractured ribs, and a head injury. After months of treatment, Jessica had chronic pain. Her brain injury prevented her from being able to return to her job as an accountant. Jessica’s debts were mounting. Her landlord had given her an eviction notice. “Please settle my case for as much as you can,” she told Walter. “I am reaching the end of my rope.”
Sarah said, “I know you want $750,000 for your client. Frankly, I don’t agree your client’s case is worth that. My carrier is prepared to offer $350,000.” “Outrageous,” sputtered Walter. “My client has a lost wages claim of $300,000 alone.” Sarah replied, “I may be able to get the carrier to agree to $550,000. How about we split the difference?”
Consider the tactics the attorneys used to negotiate Jessica’s settlement. Sarah’s offer to split the difference revealed how far she was willing to go to settle the claim. As she spoke, Walter noted her body language: her nonverbal gestures, tone, and the earnestness of her speech. If someone conveys sentiments in a half-hearted manner, she will be perceived in a half-hearted manner. From a negotiation point of view, you always have to be aware of not only the counteroffers you make, but the way in which you position your offers based on your demeanor.
Cracking the Wall
Have you ever wished you could get your opponent to disclose his strategy? Here is what to look for. Watch the other negotiator’s body language and demeanor, which is particularly important when you suspect the other negotiator is not being as open as he should be. You can deliberately provoke a reaction by using your body language to convey suspicion. Lean away from the other negotiator as he’s talking. Look him directly in the eye to see if he avoids your stare.
Observe for clusters of body language, such as him leaning back while crossing his arms, looking away from you, and avoiding eye contact altogether. Consider the clusters related to the offers and counteroffers being discussed.
Picture yourself as a real estate agent who is sitting with a man, Len Friedman, who wants to purchase a house. Mario Vincenti is the seller, who is sitting across from him. You observe Mario leaning away from your buyer. When Len makes an offer, all of a sudden not only does Mario start to lean toward Len, but he smiles. His hands are open with palms up. He’s indicating through that gesture that he is more open not only to the offer that Len has made but he may also be willing to follow Len’s lead. As the man’s Realtor, you should be very aware of the body language signals so you can get glimpses of thought processes and guide your client.
Using Statistics to Make a Point
People are fond of quoting statistics to bolster their opinion or to support an argument. How effective is this strategy in a negotiation? The answer is mixed. The usefulness of quoting statistics is based on the type of individual with whom you are negotiating. Some folks love data and numbers. Others find their eyes glazing over under a barrage of numbers.
Use your body language to emphasize a particular statistic, which is even more useful if you think the other person is not astute enough to see the significance of the statistic you’re using. As an example, you are a public speaker who is meeting with a potential client to discuss booking your services to work with the sales team of a large corporation. You lean toward the other person and say, “I’m 100% sure based on what I’ve experienced this is the best action for you to take.” Let’s say your body language is aligned with that pronouncement even to the point that you’re either using a finger to point to your opponent or stabbing your finger toward the table. You’re emphasizing the fact that the statistic that you are quoting from your perspective is valid.
If you are toward the end of a negotiation, and find a slight impasse, you may wish to use statistics to emphasize the fact that the other negotiator should not be alarmed by following the course that you’ve suggested. You can say something like, “75% of the companies who have brought me in to train their sales team have seen average increases in revenues of 25% per year.”
If you observe your opponent’s body language as being somewhat skeptical, you can then refer to the social proof or testimonials you received from companies that experienced those improvements. Literally show her the outcome of what you cited. That will carry even more emphasis and becomes a nonverbal gesture that you interject into the negotiation, which allows you to be perceived as more persuasive. During the discussions, use gestures to point to the testimonials whenever you want to emphasize your credibility and reiterate the statistics of success.
Pain and Pleasure in a Negotiation
Preliminary research prior to a negotiation helps you understand what will motivate the other negotiators. Missy and Charles Chadwick sat in front of Jose, a car salesman. Missy was pain adverse. She wanted to conclude the deal that day. She was very tired of driving her 10-year-old car and couldn’t wait to finish this deal so she could look forward to having a safe, new car. She was not willing to wait for another day or another dealer to delay closing the deal. Missy was more easily swayed during a negotiation because of her motivation to avoid the pain of not coming up with a decisive conclusion to the negotiation.
Jose observed the body language of Missy as she fumed over the protracted negotiations. She sighed, squirmed in her seat, and looked impatient. Jose also noted that Charles had been oblivious to his wife’s signals. Charles was more willing to take risks and incur the pain of not concluding the purchase. Charles thought, “Okay, so if we don’t buy this car today, I know I still have tomorrow. If it doesn’t get done tomorrow, I know there are other car dealers in the area.”
Sensing Charles’s thought processes, Missy pulled him out in the hall away from the salesman and revealed the pain the protracted negotiations was causing her. Charles quickly capitulated after calculating the pain of not agreeing with his wife. Jose smiled when the couple returned ready to conclude the deal.
The pain and pleasure aspect enters a negotiation from a physical perspective when you literally turn up or decrease the heat in a room to make someone uncomfortable. You are forcing your opponent to experience a form of discomfort that can be somewhat aligned with pain. Your actions force the person to consider how long she wants to stay in an uncomfortable environment; that influences the length of the negotiation. This is another reason that you should consider who will be negotiating with you when you have a team. You want to be sure your team members do not fall prey to these tactics.
Now let’s look at the pleasure aspect. There may be all kinds of additional goodies that you can put on the negotiation table, including food and beverages, that send a subliminal message of hospitality. You may also use promises of pleasure if the negotiation is satisfactorily concluded, such as extra bonuses. The goodies can also be held back to cause discomfort. You are sending a subliminal message that says, “If you do what I suggest it will be pleasurable for you because I’ll make this negotiation easier. If you don’t, it will be painful.”
Exaggerated Pain or Pleasure Responses
Be wary of individuals who exaggerate their reactions during a negotiation. Jason helped corporations to improve their performance through executive coaching. Jason approached Geoffrey about purchasing his website development services. In the middle of the tense negotiation, Jason told Geoffrey, “Get your foot off my neck!” Although he was speaking metaphorically, he meant, “You are literally causing me pain with your offer.” He communicated that he was in a painful situation based on Geoffrey’s offer.
Geoffrey responded by being somewhat flip to lighten up the environment and alleviate the pain that Jason injected into the negotiation. Geoffrey said to himself, “Jason is trying to invoke pain and express displeasure simply as a ploy in a negotiation. He knows my offer of $300,000 is fairly priced. I will counter with a lower number.”
Not happy with Geoffrey’s counteroffer of $200,000, Jason replied, “Please, you’re hurting me.” He grabbed his heart as he leaned backwards, indicating that the negotiation was painful. His body language showed that he was struck with pain and tried to convince Geoffrey that he did not like the offer on the table.
Suppose Jason grabbed his heart and instead of leaning back, leaned toward Geoffrey while saying, “Oh, this is so painful for me.” Geoffrey thought, “He is not sincere about the discomfort that he is in simply because he’s leaning toward me. I’m going to test him and watch what he does next.”
“I can’t pay you any more than $220,000.” Geoffrey watched Jason carefully as he opened his hands, saying “This is painful.” His hands meant he was lowering his guard and being sincere with this gesture. They concluded the negotiation by agreeing to a price of $250,000.
What would you do? Knowing that Jason was using a ploy, Geoffrey could have held firm on his offer to get Jason to make the next move. Geoffrey could have enhanced the process by saying, “What would it take to relieve the pressure on your neck?” Jason might have given an offer that was higher than $250,000. When Geoffrey lowered his offer before asking Jason what might be fair to Jason, he left potential money on the table. Seek input from the other negotiator to gain insight into what he thinks is fair before lowering an offer. By getting his input, you know how your offer should be modified.
Exaggerated pleasure responses also give clues in a negotiation. Watch for smiles, a lilt in the voice, euphoric expressions, and other signs of happiness. Smiling is often accompanied by the person’s voice going up. The other negotiator could be literally sitting taller in a chair across from you if you’re negotiating face-to-face. That too gives you a signal along with the other cluster signals of the smile and the uplifting of the corners of the eyes.
Posture also conveys messages. Suppose you are standing in front of a negotiator. You notice she has her hands open and her arms away from her body. What she is saying is, “I have nothing to fear from you.” All of those clustered signals are aligned with the person being happier. Those are just a few of the body language signals that you can observe to detect if someone is really in a pleasurable state of mind. When you’re negotiating observe the body language signals that can also give insight into what degree someone is experiencing pain, pleasure, happiness, sadness, and so on.
Scents during Negotiations
You may use scents to create an unpleasant or pleasant environment. For example, infusers may pump scents into the air that may affect your negotiations. One way to evoke a sense of pain is to put people in an environment that doesn’t have pleasant smells. You might be indicating that they should hurry up and get the deal done to get out of the environment. I’ve known negotiators who will bite a clove of garlic and then get close to the other negotiator to make him back off. The aggressive subliminal message that’s being sent is, “Look, get this over with. You don’t want to be so close to me because it may be detrimental to you.” There’s a subliminal message being sent with the garlic.
You may notice that deodorant has failed in the middle of the negotiation. The nonverbal body language of body odor could have several meanings. It could convey, “You’re making me sweat so badly that my body odor is starting to take over. I’m alarmed and scared. This is so important to me.”
You might take an aggressive position by drawing attention to your opponent’s body odor.
You: “Wow, John, what happened?”
John: “What do you mean what happened?”
You: “Is this negotiation really getting tough for you?”
John: “Why do you ask that?”
You: “Well, it appears that you didn’t even take time to bathe.”
Watch John’s body language. Does John literally sniff his underarms, which could be a clue that subliminally he was unaware of his odor? He says, “Yes, I guess I am focusing so much on this negotiation that I’m not taking time to take care of myself.” Does your comment make John angry and intensify his reluctance to agree to terms favorable to you? John’s demeanor after you inform him of his odor will give you insight into his mind-set. He might say, “OK, so the negotiation is getting to me, now what?” On the other hand, suppose John says, “Wow, I’m sorry; maybe we should convene at another time.” You know that the negotiation is really affecting him; he’s aware that you realize this, and he wants to put himself into a better light and smell.
Pleasant smells may enhance negotiations. Suppose you are going to negotiate with Grant to buy your bakery. You know he loves baking. You pick a back room in your bakery for the negotiations, and ask your staff to bake cookies while you are talking with Grant. As the air fills with the smell of cookies, you watch Grant smile as he subliminally starts to feel good about the environment. He transfers his good feelings to the negotiation.
Smells impact the senses and enhance what you wish to accomplish. From a body language point, you should observe what type of effects that scent is having on the other negotiator. Note whether or not she’s smiling more as a result of the scent that has now been infused into the negotiation.
Skilled negotiators may be aware of the deliberate use of scents: “Wait a minute, this smells like a pine scent, which makes me think of Christmas time and Christmas trees. This is a ploy I’m going to ignore.” While they may deliberately ignore that particular scent, they may also recognize how you are trying to influence their thought process and therefore raise their guard.
Sandra Edsoren watched Howard Weston as he responded to her offer of a job as director of Human Relations. She named the salary that she was prepared to offer. “I’m not really sure I want that responsibility now,” he said. “He’s lying,” she thought. What gave him away? Before this discussion began, Sandra had studied Howard’s eye movements and knew how he typically moved his eyes. (Refer back to Chapter 1 for the discussion on the meaning of eye movements.) Sandra watched his eyes as he spoke. She noted Howard would not look her in the eye and concluded he not only did not believe what he was saying, but that he was also somewhat ashamed and embarrassed. He did not want her to detect his lie by seeing it in his eyes.
Sandra thought, “I don’t really believe what he is saying. What is he after? Does he want me to beg him to take the job? Is he angling for a higher salary than I offered?” Sandra replied, “What makes you think that?” As Howard responded, Sandra watched his body language. Howard continued to look away from her as he said, “I don’t know if I have the skills to handle the job. But if I were to take it, I would need a considerably higher salary.”
Note that Sandra did not confront Howard with his lie, but let him reveal his true motivation for hesitating.
Suppose instead, Sandra said to Howard, “I don’t think you are being truthful with me by saying you are not ready for the responsibility.” Howard sighed deeply and said, “I don’t know why you would say I was lying. I don’t know why you would challenge me.” This display of wounded ego deepened Sandra’s suspicion that Howard was looking for stroking. He wanted her to convince him that he has the skills to manage the department, and that Sandra really needed him in that position. Sandra knew she had to delve deeper into the source of his lie. The risk of not calling him on the lie would mean Sandra could be manipulated into giving a higher salary, when what Howard really wanted was ego stroking.
Howard would continue to lie if he thought he was getting away with it. He did not see what he was doing as lying. Stretching the truth was nothing more than his perception of a valid negotiation strategy. Sandra knew that if she allowed Howard to continue his positioning without being challenged, she would be giving Howard permission to lie to her. While Sandra felt by not challenging Howard she was giving him permission to lie, she could also be gathering additional insight that could prove to be more beneficial as the negotiation progressed.
As stated above, by not challenging Howard initially, Sandra was able to get Howard to disclose the real cause of him being less than completely truthful. He wanted more money! There’ll be times when you will have to decide what time is appropriate to call someone on dishonesty. Before doing so, make sure that you’ve gathered the proper amount of insight to determine where you’ll take the negotiation once you present your observation.
Trust strengthens a negotiation. Lying poisons it. Your guard goes up when you believe someone is lying to you. If you’re the person who is being perceived as lying, the other negotiator may not believe the truth. She will start to question everything that you say; lies can poison and destroy the trust and honesty needed between negotiators. Lies can result in a misdirection of the negotiation that may lead to an impasse. A person who is lying experiences some form of discomfort. One lie may cause a slight bit of discomfort, while a barrage of lies will definitely create a level of discomfort that becomes easier to discern. Nevertheless, even at the outset of the first lie, the body will make a soothing gesture to correct for the untruthfulness. Be attuned to that soothing gesture, which could be in the form of someone’s hand rubbing the opposite arm, leg, neck, hand, and so on. That soothing gesture will alert you to observe for gestures that will indicate the severity of the lies being told.
Dealing with Differing Perceptions
Suppose you’re dealing with a person who has a different perception of the deal. How can you tell that individual is looking at this negotiation in a way that’s really markedly different from your perspective? Start off the negotiation by discussing the outcome that both of you are seeking. This strategy helps to obtain the other person’s buy-in and sets the stage for the outcome. As you are engaged in the negotiation you can reconfirm what the other negotiator is looking for, what you’re looking for and what the two of you are negotiating for. When you get toward the conclusion of the negotiation you can then cite where it is that you were, where it is that you are, and where it is that you hope to be in a short period of time. This dialogue sounds something like this:
Mary: “Joe, we’ve come together to discuss how your organization can provide us with the planks we need in our manufacturing operations. As of now, your organization will provide us with 1,000 planks delivered on a weekly basis, correct?”
Joe: “Yes, Mary, that’s correct. We’ll do so and your organization will have a check to my company by the following Wednesday after delivery, correct?”
Mary: “Yes, that’s correct. We’ll also have a three-day grace period to make sure the mail doesn’t negatively impact the arrival of the check and our agreement.”
Joe: “That was not part of our discussion.”
Mary: “You’re right, but after thinking about the impact the mail might have on our agreement, I wanted to prevent such from occurring.”
Joe: “That puts our agreement in a different light.”
Mary: “How so?”
Joe: “We’re depending on your check arriving by the following Wednesday after delivery, so our cash flow is not impacted.”
Mary: “What other course of action might you suggest to make sure the mail doesn’t negatively impact you receiving the check?”
Joe: “Can you wire the funds to our bank once you receive the shipment within a day?”
Mary: “Yes, we can do that.”
Joe: “Thank you, Mary. It’s really nice doing business with you.”
Detect differing perceptions by observing the body language of the other negotiator. Does she speak quickly with a rising inflection in her voice? You’ve just confirmed she is excited. As an example, she says something along the lines of, “Wow, I really like the way that you and I are concluding this negotiation.” You can tell from the excitement in her voice and her smiles that she is happy.
Suppose she says, “You know, I had a different perspective of what this negotiation was going to be about and what it is that we were negotiating for.” She frowns, shakes her head, and says these words slowly. You’ve gotten a very different message.
A smart negotiation strategy would be to stop and inquire about her perspective to make sure the two of you are aligned or to at least confirm she is not using that as a ploy. Suspect a ploy if she said, “I had a different perspective” with a light voice while nodding her head. Those incongruent signals then indicate that it might be a ploy. Observe her body language after she said that. Here is a sample dialogue:
You: “But I thought you wanted the deal to be concluded by the end of this week.”
Her: “Well, I do.”
You: “If I gave you that, would you be agreeable to the price I quoted?”
Listen to her voice. If her voice rises as she says “possibly,” she is responding more positively than if her voice goes down. The two intonations are slightly different. A falling inflection could mean “maybe I will or maybe I won’t.”
Up to this point in the chapter I’ve talked about negotiating against another person, but you could be involved in a negotiation with multiple people. The other side could have three or four people across the table and you might have a partner sitting next to you. Adding additional people to the negotiation setting provides an opportunity for differing perceptions to affect the negotiation.
There are times when the power person in a negotiation will not even be at the table. In some cases, depending on the magnitude of the negotiation, the person with the decision-making authority is not in the room. You may not know who that person is and with whom you’re truly negotiating.
Let’s say the power person is at the negotiation table. There are four people on the opposing side; you have three people on our side. You have to be much more cognizant of everyone’s body language on the opposing team when you’re negotiating with multiple negotiators. Some organizations will use a team of negotiators who have different roles in the negotiation. You will understand what those roles are from the body language, by observing who speaks at a particular time, what they speak about, who glances at others, and so on.
For example, you are negotiating with Franco and Geraldine. You might ask, “What will it take to get this deal done?” Although Franco claims to be the lead negotiator, he looks at Geraldine. You watch Geraldine raise her eyes. Franco replies, “I’m not sure.” You recognize that Franco took his signal from Geraldine, which could be an indication that Geraldine is the real power source at the table.
Be aware that good negotiators know that you are watching for these kinds of signals and may attempt to confuse you as to who the real lead negotiator is. Watching the body language will enable you to determine who is in charge and what the other team’s strategy might be. Depending on whatever is being negotiated for, you then have more insight about what the other team is willing to do to get you to negotiate more amicably, or back down from your offers and counteroffers.
Signals between partners
Tiffany and Christine had spent a lot of time marketing their wellness programs to a large corporation. They were in a final decision-making meeting with Barbara. Tiffany watched Christine’s body language as Barbara reacted to the proposal. Tiffany thought, “Christine is smiling and nodding and looks like she is ready to accept the terms Barbara is proposing. But Barbara is offering us a price that is far below what we quoted her. What’s wrong with Christine? We talked about this before the meeting and agreed that we would hold to our proposed price.”
Tiffany and Christine could have avoided this situation by setting up signals ahead of time, just like you would if you were on a baseball diamond or on a football field. Let’s see how they could communicate with each other with body language. Before the meeting with Barbara, Tiffany and Christine agreed on signals that will indicate certain things. They decided that Tiffany would have the ultimate decision-making responsibility during the negotiation. She would observe Christine’s hand movements. Christine would convey her reaction of “I’m displeased with this particular offer” by moving her hand from the table to her lap. Barbara would not likely pick up such a subtle signal.
In the meeting, Christine conveyed to Tiffany that she was not enamored with the offer. Tiffany did not give away through her body language the fact that the offer was not acceptable. Instead, she continued to position herself as the lead negotiator for her team while not disclosing to Barbara that really she was not the power person. When Christine was happy with the offer, she moved her hand from her lap to the table, palm up.
Who is in charge?
Sometimes it serves your purpose to not initially reveal the identity of the power person. Danny and Angelina are negotiating with Eddie to purchase his restaurant. Danny is acting as the lead negotiator. Angelina is the power person and the senior negotiator. Eddie has named a price that is so ridiculous that Angelina emphatically says to Danny, “I think we are wasting our time, Danny. Let’s go.” When Angelina stands up, Eddie is puzzled. He thought Danny was the lead person, and now discovers that Angelina holds the power.
Danny turns to Eddie and says, “I would love to conclude the deal but Angelina is unhappy with the terms. Let me see if I can talk to her out in the hall.” This tactic of good cop/bad cop, which you read about in Chapter 8, makes Eddie realize, “I made a big mistake. I assumed because Angelina is a woman that she was not the power person. This deal is not going to be easy to complete now.”
When you are headed to an impasse
What are some signs that would indicate a negotiation is headed toward a roadblock? Watch body language for early warnings. Let’s talk about that from a body language perspective first. Guadalupe is negotiating with Rene to purchase an office condominium for her business. Rene leans away from Guadalupe. As Guadalupe attempts to appease her, Rene leans further away. She sent Guadalupe a signal that meant “No. Your offer is not making me come toward you. Instead it’s causing me to lean further away. Make a better offer.”
Guadalupe increases the price she is willing to pay. As Rene leans further away, Guadalupe thinks, “Are we going to hit an impasse now if I continue to hold to that price? Or is this a ploy Rene is using to make me believe no matter what I offer, she is going to hold out for full price?”
Rene leans forward and says “Do a little bit better and we may have a deal.” All the time that she was leaning away she was sending the subliminal message that we may be headed toward an impasse. Rene deliberately assumed this posture to get Guadalupe to put what she perceived to be her best offer on the table. Rene gained insight into how far Guadalupe was willing to negotiate to buy the condominium.
Guadalupe could have used a different strategy when she perceived she was heading toward an impasse. This is what she might have done: She started to slow the pace of the negotiation to see what Rene did next. Guadalupe knew Rene had another meeting to follow their negotiation. Since time was a factor in the negotiation and Guadalupe sensed that they were headed toward an impasse, she slowed down her responses. She watched Rene’s body language to determine if she was effectively applying pressure on Rene. Guadalupe asked herself the following questions:
✵ Is Rene becoming more engaged?
✵ Is she leaning forward more?
✵ Are her hands more open?
✵ Are her arms further away from her body?
The suggestion of an impasse conveyed through subliminal messages can be used in a negotiation to gain insight into how badly the other negotiator wants the deal and what strategies she will employ to get past the potential impasse. Impasses are strategic tools that you may use in a negotiation to gain an advantage.
Offers: Who Goes First?
There are many variables that go into the decision of who should make the first offer in a negotiation. Both parties go into the negotiation knowing what it is that they are seeking, that there are potential road blocks, and that they need to agree on terms.
Dean Howard is a claims adjuster who handles many files. How effective he is in settling one case is not as important as his overall performance in how well he can control costs. Dean is in a stronger position than Ashley Miller, a plaintiff attorney. Ashely handles far fewer files and wants to get as much money as she can for each client. Since Dean is in the stronger position, he opens the negotiation by saying, “Here’s the deal that we can put on the table at this time.”
Listen to that verbiage. There’s a subliminal message: “This is the best deal we can put on the table at this time.” The unspoken message is, “Yes, we may be able to put a better deal on the table going forth.” This is one of the reasons subliminal messages are so important in a negotiation. Dean has set the stage for negotiations.
Let’s contrast that with the weaker negotiator trying to act in a stronger position. Ashley says, “We could never accept the deal that I think you would offer. That’s why I am sitting in your office to discuss this.” The positioning of that statement said in a stronger more fervent manner also indicates that she’s trying to say, “This is our position and we are strong.”
Dean responds, “Really!” His eyes are wide as he implies, “Come on, don’t even try it. That’s not going to fly with me.” Ashley has weakened her position with her bluster. By making that statement she has put herself a step behind where she would have been had Dean made the first offer.
There are variables that go into who should make the first offer. The person making the first offer will set the tone of the negotiation. You would make the first offer if you are in a strong position or want to communicate your strength. To the degree you want to see what the other negotiator might do, you offer him the opportunity to make the first offer. Base your decision making on the strategy that you have laid out for the negotiation. That determines whether you allow the other negotiator to make the first offer or you will actually make it. The point is that you need to understand based on your strategy why you would allow the other negotiator to make the first offer.
Don’t be a pushover. What do I mean by that? One thing you don’t want to do is to continuously make counteroffers that cause you to cave into the other person’s wishes for the outcome of the negotiation versus yours. When you make counteroffers that concede points to your opponent, you’re showing your weakness. If that’s the case, you don’t want to send that signal because that encourages your opponent to just continuously ask for more concessions from you.
Take into consideration when making a counteroffer what might be the outcome. Will the other negotiator say yes, will he say no? If he says no, what will be your response? That also goes back to your planning stages. As I discussed in Chapter 3, “Primers,” planning helps you anticipate detours and impasses.
The way you make and offer your counteroffers impacts detours around a roadblock in a negotiation. Do not engage in counteroffers haphazardly not knowing where they may lead. If you’re not sure, take a time out. Literally get away from the negotiation table.
Earlier I covered silent signals you would plan with a negotiating partner. A time-out signal allows you to get away from the negotiation table if you encounter a situation where you are not prepared to make a counteroffer or you even want to give the impression that you need to think about the other person’s offer. Giving the impression that you need time to think about the other person’s offer is also a good strategy to employ when making a counteroffer even if you don’t have a counteroffer in hand. By giving the impression that you’re being deliberate, you provide more emphasis to your counteroffer. One way to slow the possible negative effects of an offer or counteroffer is to ask for some concession from the opposing negotiator. Once she realizes that you’ll request something in order for her to get something, you’ll put her on notice that she should not be so quick to make requests.
You have shaken hands, the symbolic nonverbal body language that says, “Yes, we have a deal.” But does it really mean that? In some situations, in some cultures, shaking hands at the conclusion of a deal is nothing more than the end of one phase and the beginning of the next. When you shake hands, does that mean the both negotiators agree the deal is concluded?
Always set the groundwork so that you know what is going to follow: “So you’re going to do this (specify), correct?” The other negotiator says, “Yes.” Continue to summarize the steps to obtain the other negotiator’s agreement. Watch the other negotiator’s body language when you summarize the agreement. If you’re talking to someone on the phone, listen to the words that he uses.
Leslie has just sold licensing fees to Krishna, who works a company that wants to use Leslie’s training materials. As Leslie reiterates the deal, Krishna replies, “Yes, I think (pause) we can follow up by sending that $100,000 check within the next two weeks.” Leslie becomes concerned by the manner in which Krishna spoke. He sounded like he was not sure he could follow through with what is supposed to be the agreement. Leslie replied, “Wait a minute. I’m sensing some form of hesitation. Please, tell me what it is that I’m sensing.” A smart negotiator would say, “How can I tell you what you’re sensing?” He does not want to disclose his full position at that time.
Leslie realized she needed to have a strategy to ensure that she got her check or get out of the deal so she could work with a different company. She should expect Krishna to react to her apprehension so that the deal stays together and doesn’t run the risk of unraveling.
During the negotiation process, observe body language to determine to what degree your opponent is in agreement with you. At the conclusion of the negotiation, if you have sensed that he was not in agreement about a specific point, bring the point up. Why would you want to raise it? Will you run the risk of unraveling the negotiation? Rather, you enhance the probability of the negotiation staying intact by raising a point of potential contention and addressing it at that time instead of allowing it to fester.
Buyer’s remorse in a negotiation stems from someone accepting some aspect of the negotiation during the negotiation process that he did not completely agree with. He thinks he could have done a better job negotiating to get a better outcome. This raises the risk that the negotiator will look for a reason to get out of the deal. Reduce the chances of buyer’s remorse in the other negotiator by reviewing the terms of the agreement and proactively addressing any unresolved points.
Be aware of all the parties that you’re negotiating with, even if they’re not at the negotiation table. Address each point that could cause the deal to unravel, why it might unravel, and to what degree the other party is satisfied with the deal that’s on the table. By doing so you will enhance the probability of having a successful negotiation and create better negotiation outcomes for yourself.