Body Language Secrets to Win More Negotiations - Greg Williams, Pat Iyer (2016)
Chapter 7. Nodes: Appreciating the Affinity Principle
The meeting began with what seemed like idle chatter. Toby skillfully interviewed Clarise as he probed into her education and work experience. At every outset, Toby looked for common ground. “I went to that college, too,” he exclaimed. “Why, I live in that development also.” “You’re a Cubs fan too?” Prior to the meeting, Toby spent time on social media researching Clarise. None of the details she supplied were new to him. Toby leaned forward as Clarise leaned forward, and carefully mimicked her body language. After 10 minutes of conversation, Clarise said, “I can’t believe how much we have in common!” Toby masked his grin.
What Are Nodes?
Nodes are personality types. There are four types: hard, easy, closed, and open. Refer to Figure 7.1. When it comes to negotiation and reading body language, consider the nodes from four different perspectives. The hard negotiator is opposite from an easygoing negotiator. The hard person is the north axis. The easy person is at the south axis. On the west/east axis the closed personality type is opposite from the open personality-type negotiator.
Overview of the Nodes
A hard negotiator is the person who says, “I’ll tell you my best offer. Take it or leave it.” The hard is a strident person who projects indifference about the needs or positions of the opponent. This type of personality attempts to dominate the negotiation, resulting in a challenging negotiation. Hard negotiators are motivated to win, sometimes at all costs.
The easy personality type is someone who is willing to go along to get along. The easy negotiators are optimistic, don’t believe anything should be hidden, and are willing to lay their cards on the table. Their goal is to achieve an agreement that will make everyone happy. The hard negotiator is more apt to take advantage of the easy personality.
The closed personality is someone who is cautious about sharing information. These people are paranoid about being exploited and need reassurance that their interests will not be harmed. Envision the closed person as a turtle hiding in a shell. He needs to be convinced to come out of his shell. You can quickly drive the closed personalities back into their shell if they perceive that you’re trying to take advantage of them. That will serve as confirmation of their concerns that the world is out to get them.
The open personality type is initially trusting. This person’s behavior conveys, “I’m not closed. I’m not very easy. I’m not very hard. I’m willing to see exactly what will happen.” The open personality has the perception people are good until proven otherwise. You will receive the open personality’s trust, but at the first opportunity he senses he needs to be reserved or protective of himself, he can become the exact opposite of open, which would be closed.
“Birds of a Feather Flock Together”
The expression “birds of a feather flock together” in the negotiation context means people like people who are like themselves. From a negotiation perspective, you will find people build rapport more quickly with others with whom they feel an affinity. You relate most easily to people who think and react like you do. You recognize yourself in the opponent.
Two people who are of the easy personality type may find it simple to negotiate with each other. But two hard negotiators may butt heads and get mired in impasses. One of them may need to switch nodes in order to use effective strategies and tactics to reach agreement. That’s why it’s important to understand what node you’re negotiating against and what node you’re being perceived as having. To the degree that people sense you are like them and that turns out to be favorable, you can use that as an advantage during the negotiation.
At the beginning of this chapter, you read how Toby researched Clarise to find their commonalities. Toby deliberately used the affinity principle to frame the negotiation to encourage Clarise to be more trusting, to be led simply because she liked Toby. A lot of people overlook the power of establishing affinity and likeability. Some opponents will make concessions that they normally would not make simply because they have an affinity for their opponent. Use your awareness of the affinity principle when dealing with someone with whom you have an affinity. Be aware you may have a predisposition to easily give in during a negotiation if you feel an affinity toward your opponent.
When jurors are asked to make judgments and decisions about awarding money to people who are claiming they have been injured or have been wronged in some way, the affinity principle applies during the decision-making process. A trial is like a negotiation with attorneys making offers and counteroffers, positioning themselves, and using strategies to be persuasive and to convince someone to do something that they want them to do. Attorneys use strategies to sway the jurors to their perspective. Jurors have to feel the plaintiff is just like them in order to want to award money.
As an example, someone on a property was chopping down a tree. As a result of his technique, the tree fell the wrong way and hit his neighbor, Quinton, paralyzing him. Imagine you are in court. Quinton is on the witness stand. He says, “All I was doing was just sitting around. I was drinking some beer and all of a sudden the next thing I know here comes this big-ass tree falling on me. It paralyzed me.”
Since the jurors don’t use such language, the plaintiff is distancing himself from them. Suppose Quinton said, “My wife and I were just sitting in the front yard looking at the sunset. My daughter had just called to me and said, ‘Dad, are you going to help me with my homework?’” Quinton painted a picture of having a loving family. Further, he testifies, “The next thing I know a tree comes crashing into my front yard. Fortunately, I was able to push my wife out of the way to keep her from being hit, but it struck me. It left me in the position that I’m in today.”
Now Quinton shows he has values, he is loving, and self-sacrificing. The jurors think, “Wow, that could have been me.” As soon as the people in the jury start to think that, the affinity perspective has crystallized. Quinton has established a commonality with the jury and is more likely to get a higher verdict with this testimony than if he had testified as I described in the first example.
Let’s say you are a speaker seeking to get hired by a corporation to do some training for the employees. You use a wide variety of research tools to gather information about the corporation and the person who will make the hiring decision.
One thing that you can consider is the process through which this individual hired speakers in the past. This insight gives you information about the buying process. For example, you may find out the hiring person wants to hire a speaker who
✵ likes to tell stories during the course of the presentation,
✵ is easy to work with, and
✵ shows up early or stays late.
Now you know what the hiring person is looking for. Find out what the individual and corporation value. When you’re speaking to that individual use her words and address the values that go into the process of determining which speaker she is going to hire.
You may wonder, “How do I go about gathering this information?” Use the Internet, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Facebook to do some background research on the individual. You may find out where the person went to school if you go to LinkedIn, how long she has been in her position, and about her prior work experience.
Build on these facts to build rapport. As you do so, listen to the way she responds. Try to speak at the same pace; use words similar to the ones she uses. This sends a subliminal message: “I’m a lot like you.” The hiring person finds herself thinking, “He’s like me. He speaks and sounds like me.” You’re building rapport based on the node type that you are projecting. In identifying her past activities and projecting an image that’s similar to hers, subliminally you’re influencing her. By recognizing her node type and replicating that, you’re increasing your likeability factor with her, which creates more rapport at a faster pace.That level of rapport should transfer into an easier negotiation for the two of you.
Body Language: Revealing the Node
Body language reveals your opponent’s node. For example, your adversary, Vincent Dessin, projects a hard style. You lean toward Vincent with a broad smile on your face. You’ve done some research; you find out Vincent went to Penn State. You say to Vincent, “You went to Penn State. I went to Penn State, too.” A glance at Vincent’s face shows he is stone-faced. He has given you no feedback. You say to yourself, “I should have gotten a reaction from that. Maybe he did not like his college experience. Or maybe he is a hard-nosed negotiator.”
Based on your research, you already have some insight about Vincent’s negotiation personality. You carry it a step further. “I understand you majored in finance at Penn State.” This time you’ve positioned your body so you are halfway between leaning back and leaning forward. Vincent does not react. As you literally lean all the way back in your chair you say, “I guess you had the same reaction I had when I went to Penn State.” Vincent says, “What was that reaction?” You realize that by you leaning back away from Vincent he has told you he doesn’t want you too close. Vincent is not there to make friends. He wants to get down to business. You can even state that. Say, “So let’s get down to business” as you lower the tone of your voice. You might gently place your hand on the table to say, “Let’s start this process.” Your opponent’s reactions to your body language will give you insight.
Contrast that to the easy negotiator, Girija Nair. You use the same tactics. You say, “Oh you went to Penn State. I went to Penn State, too.” You’re leaning forward. You observe as Girija all of a sudden leans forward and gives you that big broad smile also. Two things have happened. Number one, Girija has indicated, “I recognize and like the fact there’s commonality between the two of us.” You leaned forward. You smiled. She leans forward and smiles, meaning you are leading her. This is another signal that Girija might be an easygoing negotiator.
If you have misinterpreted the easy node signals, at worst you would assess Girija as an open personality-type negotiator. She is saying, “I’m trusting and you’re allowing me to build more trust just based on this short interaction you and I are having.”
In the opening scenario of this chapter I shared an insight about body language with Toby mimicking Clarise’s body language. When she leaned forward, he leaned forward. Mimicking body language is useful to building rapport. In the example of the easy negotiator, you leaned forward and that person leaned forward; you smiled and that person smiled. You are building rapport and leading the person. There’s an intrinsic value in building a rapport, meaning people like people who are like themselves.
Recognizing the Negotiator’s Node
Scott Sherman believed he was at the top of his game as a busy plaintiff trial attorney. His office took big cases and won big. Feeling the need to get some additional consulting services, Scott invited a prominent consultant, Francine Farley, to his office to meet with him and an associate. “Bring a sample work product,” he told her.
Scott sat at the head of the conference room, leaning back in his chair. Scott was about six feet tall and lanky. Francine sat to his left; Scott’s junior associate, Helen, sat across the table from Francine. The associate sat leaning forward while she examined Francine’s sample report. When Scott glanced at the report, he spotted something he did not like. “This is sophomoric. Look at these illustrations.” Francine pulled back and wondered, “Why is he insulting me like this?”
Then Scott sneered at Francine as he said, “How much do your services cost? Everybody wants to put their hands in my pocket. I worked with another consultant of your type and was not happy with what she did. I wanted to sue her but found out she had no assets.”
While Scott got called away to take a phone call, his associate said to Francine, “I really like your report. I think you did a great job.” When Scott returned to the room, they concluded the meeting with the plan that Francine would get back to him and give him a proposal.
Francine drove away; she had trouble driving due to her headache. She thought, “My body is telling me something about this experience.” Deciding she needed more information about Scott, she called colleagues who knew him. Her discussions with colleagues revealed Scott was suspected of having a cocaine habit and an erratic personality; he was nice one moment and screaming the next. He also had a bad payment history. This information reinforced Francine’s decision that she did not need him as a client. She wrote him a letter saying she was too busy to take on the cases in his practice. After that she and Scott avoided each other whenever they had an opportunity.
What happened here?
Scott made no attempt to build rapport with Francine as he projected himself as a hard negotiator. His body language of leaning back in his chair confirmed this, as well as sounding strident and hostile. He was trying to project an image of someone that Francine did not want to mess with. Francine was an open negotiator, who withdrew into a closed node when she was attacked.
At the meeting, Helen displayed an open body language and spoke in a consoling, apologetic manner with a soft tone. She had her arms apart as though she was welcoming Francine to come closer. The associate played good cop/bad cop with Francine: she waited until Scott was out of the room to express her opinions about the quality of Francine’s report. Although she said nothing disparaging about her boss, her actions and words conveyed she had a different opinion.
Instead of retreating into the closed node, Francine might have matched Scott’s tone and body language and challenged his attacks on her work product: “Why would you say this is sophomoric?” Obviously, he thought he was in control.
In this scenario, Francine had the courage to stand up for herself and state what she was feeling. “I sense hostility coming from you based on your body language, the aggressiveness in your tone, the words you are using, your gestures, and finger pointing.” Honesty pays. Had Scott responded by saying “Damn straight!” Francine could have said, “Thank you,” gotten up and left the office. She would have been saying, “No one talks to me in such a manner; I don’t need you or your business that badly … have a nice day.” If on the other hand Francine accepted Scott’s demeanor, she would have been setting herself up for more of the same. Remember, you’re always negotiating. That which you do today influences tomorrow’s negotiations.
When you try to build rapport and it is not working, first consider that your opponent may be a hostile, hard negotiator. Perhaps you need to back off and take a different approach. Be careful that you do not overreach or do anything dishonest to establish rapport. For example, Lucy said to Penny, “Oh, you went to Kansas State. I did too. I majored in business.” Lucy was lying about her background in an attempt to reach out to Penny. In response, Penny said, “I majored in business, too. Who was your favorite professor?” When Lucy could not supply a name, Penny realized Lucy was lying. Lucy harmed herself and proved she was untrustworthy and a phony. This would confirm the closed negotiator’s belief that Lucy was out to trick her. Penny said to herself, “I better go further into my shell now because Lucy has already shown me that she’s not trustworthy. She will lie to try to get me to do what she wants to manipulate me into a negotiation position.”
Be careful to what degree you try to establish rapport with someone. In today’s environment of instant fact checking and the importance of integrity in interacting with others, be mindful of the importance of being truthful. To do otherwise puts you at risk of being called out on lies and destroying your negotiation and reputation.
Recognize that your opponent will detect manipulative use of commonalities to create rapport. For example, New Yorker Louise Denton bought a house in another state. When she entered a furniture store, Tony Francesco, the salesman who waited on her exclaimed, “I’m from New York, too.” As Louise reviewed her list of what she needed and wandered around the store, Tony kept close to her. In three hours he made five references to them both being New Yorkers, and even said, “We New Yorkers need to stick together.” Louise noticed he thickened his New York accent as the morning wore on. Once Louise began finalizing her decisions, Tony knew the sale was assured. He dropped all references to being from New York.
The potential detriment of building rapport the way Tony did is the risk of coming across as a phony. Tony’s ploy was transparent. Suppose after the sale was made when Louise and Tony discussed the timing of the furniture delivery, Tony switched out of the friendly, easy type of negotiator node. He would have risked antagonizing Louise and having her back out of the deal.
When you emphasize commonalities, make sure that you are being sincere and truthful. How would Louise have felt if she overheard Tony lying to the next customer who came into the store, “Oh, I am from Montana too”? Be genuine as opposed to pandering so your opponent doesn’t think, “Now I see your real colors.”
Building Rapport: Which Nodes Respond?
It is not always prudent to build rapport. The hard personality type may be suspicious if he detects you are making an effort to build rapport with him. He may view your attempts as insincere friendliness used to manipulate him. “Everybody should be friends” does not ring true for him. That’s not part of his demeanor; he doesn’t want any part of it. The hard node sees friendliness as a weakness. He may also start to consider you as being less competent. Remember, his personality type is one who says, “I’ll tell you my best offer. I really don’t care that much about you, so why in the world would you be trying to suck up to me?” This can lead to a more difficult negotiation because the hard node may get the perception once he makes an offer he can dig in his heels and not budge.
In response to this behavior, don’t try to build rapport. Show this individual instead, “If you want to be hard-nosed, no problem. Bring it on. I can be just as hard-nosed as you are. By the way, if you want to mess with me, come on mess with me if you dare. We will get to an impasse. If you don’t care, did I tell you that I was the inventor of not caring?”
Be careful of how and when you go about trying to build rapport. Consider how and if it will be beneficial. The closed negotiator needs a gentle approach to building rapport. Use quiet, calming speech and gestures. Don’t make large gestures even from a body language perspective. You don’t want to do anything that will excite that person or incite the closed negotiator to have the thought that you are out to hurt him.
With the easy negotiator the more rapport you build with her, the more she likes you. She wants to see that you’re just like her. Make sure the negotiation goes down the path with everybody coming out ahead. The easy person wants everybody to be happy; you want to build rapport to show her that you can accomplish that goal with her.
With the open negotiator, send the message, “I know you’re a trusting person; I’m a trusting person. We can get along together. If we happen to reach a potential impasse, we can solve this situation because you and I are like-minded. We are in this together.”
Building a rapport in those situations with the closed, easy, and open personality types would be beneficial. The hard individual is someone you have to be very cautious as to what degree you even attempt to build rapport, if at all. The hard type of negotiator is one who doesn’t care about touchy-feely approaches. If the person shakes your hand, he may even look at you sideways or look away from you to give you the message you really don’t matter that much. Respond to his body language with your own hard body language.
One way to build rapport is to ask for your opponent’s input. Ask him for his advice as to how he might handle a situation. He gives you his assessment. Then you can say to the degree that it matches what you wanted to hear or do anyway. “You know, that’s a great idea. How about if we …” and you recite back to him what he said. That’s a negotiation strategy tactic, but how can he disagree with that because it’s his idea that you’re feeding back to him? This is yet another way you can build rapport based on node types.
Varying the Personality or Node Type
Good negotiators may have to display all of these personality types during the course of the negotiation based on the opponent’s negotiation type. The negotiating node may alter throughout the course of the negotiation. You might be in a negotiation with a person who your research showed was an easy negotiator. When that person displays hard behavior, you may need to switch to a hard approach personality type also.
You may need to switch from the node with which you are most comfortable and assume the characteristics of a different node. An individual who possesses the characteristics and personality type of an easy negotiator may need to play the role of a hard-nosed negotiator; this can be uncomfortable.
It may be to your strategic advantage to reflect the person’s node. When you are reflective of an individual’s personality type, that person sees you are more like him or her. As you progress through the negotiation, you can change. Be reflective to people’s personality types so they see the actions that you commit as actions that they would commit.
Let’s say you’re in a room with an open-node negotiator. He’s leaning forward, smiling at you attentively and then all of a sudden he pulls his body back to get as far away from you as possible. These signals show he has changed from an open to a hard or closed node and should cause you to reflect on what caused him to react that way.
Paul is a closed-node negotiator who is interacting with Yvonne. As Yvonne spoke, Paul leaned back, scowled, and retreated. Yvonne looked at him quizzically and said, “What just happened?” Paul replied, “What do you mean?” With that question Paul was seeking information about what Yvonne sensed or was trying to do. This guarded person was retreating into his shell.
Yvonne answered, “I just observed the fact that you seemed to withdraw.” She gave him a hint that she could read his body language: “I just noticed that you sat back a moment ago or you’ve seem to have withdrawn.” Paul explained, “I’m not sure to what degree the concession you just asked me to make is one that I can really give you. I don’t know where that might take the negotiation.” Yvonne asks, “Can you give me some insight as to how you might be able to assist us? We’re in this together.” Paul wants to feel safe and that Yvonne is not going to take advantage of him. Yvonne gives him the lead so he can feel comfortable.
Let’s contrast that same reaction that I cited a moment ago with a hard-negotiator type. Andrea is a hard negotiator type negotiating with Ted. She thinks, “There’s no way I’m going to make those concessions at all. This guy knows I really don’t care anyway.” Andrea is clicking her pen off and on as she leans back. What she’s saying to Ted with this gesture is, “Let’s get this thing over with. I don’t even want to be bothered with this anymore.”
Ted can ask the hard negotiator the same thing Yvonne posed to Paul, the closed negotiator. “What just happened?” Andrea replies, “You know I’m tired of this. Let’s move it on. Here’s the offer.” Ted has gotten insight as to what the body language meant. He knows exactly why his opponent displayed this body language.
Ted decided to call Andrea’s bluff: “I’ll tell you what. I guess we’re not going to come to an agreement.” Ted stood up to leave the room. Looking at Ted standing in front of her, Andrea thought, “I need this deal more than Ted does, and I thought he was going to be an easy person.” “Wait a minute, Ted. Come back, sit down. Ted smiled to himself as he recognized his change in body language moved Andrea from hard to possibly closed or open node. Ted began a process of asking for concessions and making offers.
The Dangers of Hard Nodes Clashing
I want you to envision a very combative deposition of an expert witness. Richard, the plaintiff attorney, and Kevin, the defense attorney, detest each other. The tension in the room is rising. They take every opportunity to verbally attack each other. At the end of the deposition Kevin goes out into the waiting room of Richard’s law firm and says, “I don’t feel like leaving your law firm. Make me leave your law firm. Go ahead, make me. Just make me get out of your law firm.” Richard stares at him in bewilderment as Kevin edges closer to him.
Richard needs to understand how to handle the situation and why Kevin is taking this position. Richard might ask, “Did I do something to alienate you? Can you please give me more insight as far as why you’re behaving this way?” Richard is thinking, “I dislike this guy and he is acting like a real hard nose.” The scene in the waiting room, which is being observed by a client and the receptionist, is turning ugly. Kevin moves closer to Richard and reaches his arm out toward Richard’s chest.
What caused this confrontation? How would you handle it? First, you need to understand the person’s mind-set before you offer a solution to it. Here’s what could have caused Kevin’s reactions. Suppose Richard said something about the yellow suit Kevin had on and he took offense to it. If this happened, this was the starting point for the alienation that developed. Then Richard turned the heat in the room down when he sensed his opponent was getting overheated. Kevin noticed Richard doing this. That was the second factor in Kevin’s antagonism.
The third aspect was that Richard’s expert witness did an excellent job testifying; she did not cave in under Kevin’s pressure. The combination of a perceived insult, uncomfortable environment, and frustration with the expert’s testimony further pushed Kevin toward his irrational behavior. Kevin wanted to even the score, typical of hard types.
As a negotiator, you need to understand what caused your opponent to take a position. The sooner you address it, the better the chance to de-escalate a potentially dangerous situation. Adroit and rapid analysis helps you find the right solution to fix the right problem. You don’t want to apply the wrong solution to the problem.
In this situation, Richard thought, “You want to be a hard-nose type? I can be too.” He picked up the phone in his waiting room and dialed 911. He said, “There’s a man in my law firm who will not leave. I would like to have an officer come to remove him from my building.” With that, Kevin hit the down button on the elevator and disappeared.
Richard had several choices in terms of how to respond to Kevin’s behavior. He could have walked away from the lobby to his own office. There was a risk Kevin might have followed him away from the open lobby area. Richard could have touched Kevin to show him where the elevator was, but likely Kevin would have hit him, something he was aching to do. Richard might have attempted to mollify Kevin if his anger had not made it impossible to reason or negotiate with him. Instead, Richard used a show of force by calling the police to encourage Kevin to leave. As Richard watched the elevator doors close, he thought “What a jerk! I wish I did not have to deal with him again.”
What you do today influences tomorrow’s negotiation situation. Kevin was forced to back down; Richard suspected Kevin would seek other ways to get even as the litigation progressed. Richard’s heavy-handedness may not have been necessary as opposed to helping Kevin calm down. Given the ongoing relationship between these two attorneys, Richard may have harmed his future negotiation efforts. He thought he was winning the battle but he could have been losing the war. Always be cautious about how you address any situation. Never appear to be heavy-handed.
There were a couple of important events that followed the scene in the waiting room. In making inquiries, Richard learned that many attorneys suspected Kevin was mentally ill. Second, they carried their battle into the courtroom when Kevin made anti-Semitic comments about Richard in front of a judge. The local legal newspaper carried the story about how the incident escalated into an even more unpleasant confrontation on a personal level in the courtroom.
Think about how that could have been prevented if Richard had been able to defuse Kevin’s anger. You’re always negotiating. What you do today influences tomorrow’s outcomes.
Looking for Commonalities
An astute negotiator watches body language signals to find common ground with an opponent. For example, you lean toward Felicity, your opponent. She leans toward you. “You and I are similar,” this says. We’re talking and sitting across from one another. I cross my right leg; Felicity crosses hers. I stand up; she stands up. That’s a leading signal; it fosters a sense of being similar: “My opponent is just like me.”
Tap the power of leading your opponent with your body language. Subliminally build rapport with body language and nonverbal signals by initially doing exactly what I recommended: the other negotiator crosses her right leg and you cross your right leg. The other negotiator happens to shift her position as she’s seated. You shift your position.
So far you’ve been following the other negotiator’s lead. All of a sudden, rub your eye. (Make sure you don’t rub your eye at a time when your gesture could be interpreted as not believing what you are seeing.) The other negotiator rubs her eye also.
I’m being a little theatrical by suggesting rubbing your eye. The signals can be very subtle also. As an example, you slow the pace of your speech; she slows the pace of her speech. At that point you’re leading her. You’re building invisible rapport as the result of the nonverbal body language gestures that the two of you have mimicked. You mimicked her and now she mimicked you.
The point is to watch for who is doing the leading. You believe you are leading her. But it is only because Felicity is giving you the same signals you gave her to that you think you are leading her. Felicity wants you to believe that. As you go further into the negotiation, watch for shifts in the leading. When you uncross your legs, Felicity keeps hers crossed. Observe exactly when it occurred and what was said at the time. It may be a signal she’s no longer following your lead.
Suppose Felicity uncrosses her legs several minutes later. Try crossing your legs again to see what she does. When she does not cross hers, this may confirm you are not leading her. There are all kinds of subtle signals you can send with your body language to determine to what degree you can lead the other negotiator. In so doing you get greater insight as to who is really in control of the negotiation.
I started the chapter with Toby and Clarise talking at the beginning of a meeting with what seemed like idle chatter. Toby asked probing questions of Clarise to bring out her education and her work experience. He focused on their common ground. The timing of when to introduce commonalities depends on the personality nodes of the negotiators. Do that as soon as possible with the very easy, open and closed negotiator types to build the perception, “My opponent is just like me. I like this person.” The affinity principle starts to become enhanced.
Be cautious with the hard negotiator type. Use a deeper, more forceful tone with that type. The deeper tone says, “I am an authority.” How you pitch your voice either conveys or cedes authority. If you raise your voice at the end of a sentence you may sound tentative or timid.
The hard person may perceive you as a pushover if you attempt to quickly build rapport. Always be cautious about the timing of how you start to build the rapport process based on the node type you’re negotiating with.
When Discretion Is the Better Part of Valor
Withhold your knowledge about commonalities instead of sharing them at the beginning of a negotiation when your opponent has had an embarrassing situation occur in his life and you’ve had a similar situation occur in yours. Don’t build rapport off of something that would embarrass someone: “Oh, you went to prison? I went to prison too. You were at Sing Sing years ago? I was at Sing Sing years ago also.” Don’t invoke bad memories by referring to unpleasant experiences. In a business environment you would not want to build any type of rapport off of something that’s uncomfortable.
Identify your opponent’s node by leading with your body language, tactics, and strategies: leaning forward, leaning back, crossing your leg, uncrossing your leg, smiling, and not smiling. You will also know to what degree this person will follow you. Understand why people adopt the demeanor they are trying to project so you can get an insight into their thought processes.
Observe how the other negotiator’s demeanor changes during your interaction. Be mindful of when a trigger causes the person to switch nodes. Is your opponent moving toward a more open or more closed position? He shuts down when he moves from open to closed. He becomes more receptive when he transitions from hard to closed; he’s moving more progressively toward understanding and being more receptive to what’s occurring in the negotiation. You’ve achieved steps in the path to success when you are able to move a closed or hard negotiator to a more open or easy position.