Body Language Secrets to Win More Negotiations - Greg Williams, Pat Iyer (2016)
Chapter 8. Persuaders: Tapping the Power of Influence
Carrie Townsend stood on the stage, about ready to make her presentation to a group of Internet marketers. After scanning the room and seeing a large space between the stage and the first row of seats, she stepped off the stage and said, “Bring your chairs forward and gather around.” Carrie started her presentation with a story; she watched people lean toward her. After she skillfully slipped in content from the topic of her book, she asked, “Who would like a copy of this book?” Hands went up; she passed out the book to anyone who had a hand up. Carrie wove her net tighter by stressing the benefits and value of what she had to offer. “Who would like a free ticket to my next event? There are only 40 tickets and you will get them today, but when they are gone, they are gone.” More hands went up.
When Carrie sensed she had created a sense of scarcity and urgency, she went into her sales pitch: a year-long coaching program with a lot of access to her. Clutching their free books and free tickets, a stream of people headed to the back of the room to sign up.
Negotiation strategies are much like what Carrie did to sell her services—they are rooted in the ability to persuade and influence others. This chapter focuses on some of the fundamentals of persuasion and influence that affect the negotiation process.
Win-Win or Win-Lose?
Does there always have to be a winner and a loser in a negotiation? Does your opponent think in terms of one winner and one loser in a negotiation? What kind of person are you negotiating with? This attitude may be rooted in negative negotiation experiences, cultural conditioning, or aggression. You may also encounter people who stubbornly refuse to allow you to lead, influence, or persuade them. When you’re negotiating with someone and he accepts the premise of “I win, you lose,” it’s going to be very difficult to persuade him. You must show him that you’re not a threat to him. And you might have to be a little more stringent with this type of individual simply because you need to let him know, “I’m willing to go toe-to-toe with you. We may have a difficult negotiation.” Taking this stance should earn you respect, disarm the other negotiator, and help you move away from “I win, you lose” positioning. If that individual sees your negotiation style as similar to his, you are building on the affinity principle discussed in Chapter 7: people like us if they perceive we are like them. The likeability factor influences our ability to persuade others.
How do you spot the person who values cooperation and endorses a “win-win” position? This person values harmony and conflict avoidance. She says, “I’ll go along to get along.” With that type of individual, you can show through your actions that you’re not out to harm her. Let her take the lead if that is appropriate. Allow her to feel comfortable with you. The more comfortable she becomes with you, the more she will intuitively trust you. This allows you to gently take the lead in the negotiation. You can do this through the questions that you ask. Test her reaction to see to what degree she will follow you. This negotiator allows you to persuade her because you’ve shown her that you’re not going to harm her; you have a common goal of a win-win result.
Suppose you encounter a timid person who is overwhelmed by the negotiation and feels inadequate? This person may be afraid to follow you because he doesn’t know if he can trust you. Show this person you can be trusted; allow him to take the lead. Use questions such as, “What do you think about this?” A smart negotiator would have set the scenario so the response the person gives is the one that harmoniously moves the negotiation forward. Build harmony by saying, “You’re right. That’s a good thought.” Your response endorses the person’s thought processes and helps him feel comfortable with you. He gains more courage when you accept his position; he feels as though he can trust you more, which allows you to persuade him.
Persuasion and Influence
Persuasion is the foundation of the ability to influence your opponents. If you cannot persuade them, you will not have influence over them. Your ability to influence others is a step toward persuading them; they have allowed you to take that first step in the form of persuasion. You gain influence to the degree that the other negotiators allow you to persuade them. Notice I said to the degree you’re allowed to gain that form of persuasion necessary for influencing the other negotiators. All of us are in control of our lives. We don’t relinquish control of our lives until we decide to literally give our power to someone else. That’s how influence actually comes about. First you set the groundwork, whereby the other negotiators allow you to persuade them to trust you. Others watch you and judge whether you are attempting to help or harm their negotiation position. Always recognize your strategies are designed to gain influence over the other negotiators. You achieve this by
✵ teaching people a new way to think,
✵ challenging the way people currently think, and
✵ role modeling behaviors that will lead to a successful outcome.
The other negotiators have to allow you to use these strategies. You can be the smartest person in the world; you can be the sharpest negotiator in the world. You can outline the steps in the negotiation—show the negotiators the path that leads to a successful outcome for the negotiation. Yet if they refuse to cooperate, you have no persuasion over these individuals. You have no influence.
Consider this example: Krishnamurthy Iyengar learned how to negotiate by watching his mother talk to the fresh-vegetable vendors. His mother used a variety of strategies such as acting shocked at the price or starting to walk away when she did not hear an acceptable price. Through repeated experiences, he absorbed the lesson that one should never pay the first price that the vendor quoted. Krishnamurthy carried this belief into his negotiations when he started his electronics company. Ray Fox was puzzled when Krishnamurthy immediately rejected a price for parts Ray knew Krishnamurthy needed. Ray retreated, thought about Krishnamurthy’s reaction, and consulted a partner who had encountered this strategy before. After taking over the negotiation, the partner started by quoting a price that was higher than the one he expected Krishnamurthy to accept. They concluded the negotiation at a price that was acceptable to them both and was very close to the price Ray initially quoted.
Sometimes it’s not just necessarily the message that fails, it’s the messenger. You may be the wrong messenger to deliver the message; someone else may be better able to connect with the other negotiator. If you are in such a situation, bring in your partner to negotiate.
Good Cop/Bad Cop
Made famous by police interviews with suspects, this technique typically uses two people. The bad cop is the person trying to deliver the message to the suspect that he or she should adopt a certain course of action, such as confessing to a crime. The good cop comes in to support and encourage the suspect. Often the good cop supplies food or beverages that the bad cop denied to the suspect. The good cop’s behavior is designed to contrast with the bad cop’s so the suspect will let his guard down. The bad cop is stern and harsh in an effort to make the suspect fearful. When good cop/bad cop is used during a negotiation, this technique is particularly devastating to the timid negotiator, who may retreat.
The person who has the “I win, you lose” perspective may go toe-to-toe with a person displaying the characteristics of the bad cop simply because he’s going to show the bad cop exactly how tough he can be. When you bring in the good cop approach, you’ve already softened that individual, who may think to himself, “I’m tired of going through this whole game.” A good negotiator will recognize the good cop/bad cop scenario even when it’s projected by the same person. These nuances have an impact on the level of influence or persuasion one will have in a negotiation.
You can incorporate good cop/bad cop strategies in your negotiation without having two people present. Consider this example: Richard Allen was a businessman who saw the opportunity to make a lot of money by being part of the games development industry. He approached a programmer, Kevin Weinstein, to develop a new game. The contract included language that was very restrictive of the programmer’s rights to his own intellectual property that had nothing to do with the new game. When Kevin confronted him with the offensive clauses, Richard said, “That’s just boilerplate language. You know how lawyers are.”
Recognizing good cop/bad cop, Kevin immediately had to make a decision about retaining an attorney to represent his interests against the “bad cop/lawyer” who created the contract. After deciding to see if he could revise the contract without an attorney, Kevin removed the parts of the contract that he believed were detrimental to his rights. He emphasized the value of his contribution to the game development by outlining all of the roles he was capable of playing. Then Kevin said to Richard, “What are you trying to do to me? You’re trying to restrict me from working for any other game developer, and to take my intellectual property from me. I don’t think so. That’s not going to happen at all. The language in the contract is insulting.” After expressing his displeasure with Richard’s terms, Kevin found that Richard quickly agreed with Kevin’s changes. He also agreed to an hourly rate that was three times higher than Kevin’s current rate, and he offered a small percentage ownership in the company.
Kevin’s negotiation incorporated several negotiation strategies. Richard most likely capitulated because Kevin recognized he had the power in the negotiation. Richard had no backup plan if Kevin pulled out of the project. Power equaled influence. Kevin had to choose to what degree he would allow Richard to influence him. Had he not said anything, the language in the contract would have bound Kevin to unfavorable terms. Influence is critical in a negotiation. Kevin recognized how his power influenced the negotiation.
Positional power is power that one gains in a negotiation as the result of being at a particular point in the negotiation and having something your opponent really wants. Kevin used his positional power to negotiate a higher hourly rate and obtain partial ownership of the company. He understood how to use his power to revise the agreement to make it acceptable to Richard and himself.
How do we gain influence over people? Consider the idea that you gain influence when you teach others a new way to think. This goes beyond what instructors or professors do within a higher educational setting. Certainly they challenge others to think differently. A good negotiator also challenges the other negotiator to consider different approaches to reach a successful outcome.
I coach people literally around the world on how they not only can reach a high level of performance, but consistently sustain that high level of performance on a daily basis. The individuals who I coach have already acknowledged my expertise. They’ve given me the right to have influence over them. I have positional power at that particular point. They know that what I possess will be of benefit to them; they allow me to influence them because that’s why they are seeking my help. The people I coach want me to do just that—to influence them into performing better and achieving more in their lives.
We can only gain influence when someone allows us to. We lose influence once that person has been satisfied with the fact that she’s received as much benefit as possible. When that happens, when we start to lose influence, we can use strategies to draw the person back to us. We can either point out a shortcoming, or offer more services. Compare this to the sales process you may be familiar with: You may have seen marketers who offer a variety of upsells by saying, “Oh but wait, there’s more.” Once again you turn to look at the commercial or whatever has drawn your attention back to it.
Use the same type of tactic in a negotiation. You might say something like, “If you like what I’ve already told you, let me tell you what else you need to know.” This strategy is used to influence the other negotiator to help you both reach the goal of the negotiation. Your influence ends when the person pushes back, and says, “I’m good. I don’t need anymore.” In a negotiation, that’s the number-one reason you need to exercise your influence while it lasts. Once we lose influence we lose the ability to persuade others to move in a particular direction.
Body Language and Influence
Chapter 1 discusses the crucial importance of being able to read the subtle and not so subtle signals of body language. Let’s suppose you see the other negotiator resisting your attempts to influence him. What can you do when that happens? As you will see, there are several different actions you can take. First of all, before you ever get to the negotiation table, you need to understand the style of the person with whom you’ll be negotiating:
✵ What motivates that person?
✵ Why he is negotiating with you?
✵ What is he going to do if he can’t actually achieve the goals that he’s seeking?
Consider this situation: Vincent Berelli was negotiating with Sara Harter, the head of procurement for a major pharmaceutical client. He observed Sara’s body language and gestures as he sincerely said, “I’m going to give you the best deal that I can. I’m going to make sure you’re happy with it.” Vincent knew that Sara was motivated to save money for her company. She was under pressure to reduce costs. But he saw Sara lean back in her chair. Vincent perceived Sara as literally moving away from his words. “Doesn’t she trust me?” he wondered. Vincent asked, “Do you believe what I’m saying?” Sara leaned back further and replied, “Yes, I do.” Vincent recognized this mixed message. Sara said, “Yes,” but her body language said “No.”
Skillfully reading Sara’s body language, Vincent said, “I heard what you said.” He meant, “I heard exactly what you said, but I saw you lean away from me. That gesture suggests that maybe you don’t really believe me. Convince me that you believe me.” Sara leaned toward him, smiled, and said, “I was a little apprehensive, but let’s go on and see what happens.”
Vincent recognized from Sara’s body language that she was skeptical, but he did not disclose his thoughts. Instead, he gently challenged her. Her body language of leaning forward indicated that she was at least willing to listen openly. Vincent rejoiced at the possibility that he could have some influence over Sara; he knew he had to conclude a successful negotiation that afternoon. His supervisor had stressed the importance of Sara’s business.
Vincent watched Sara’s body language as he proceeded through the negotiation: Sara continued to lean away from him, frown, and keep her arms crossed over her chest. “I’m not getting anywhere,” he thought. “I need to regroup and back out of this negotiation.”
Don’t invest more of your time in the negotiation when you recognize from the other person’s body language and responses that you are not gaining influence. You think, “But I’ve spent so much time on this. I want to see it to the end.” The more time you invest in a negotiation, the more you are apt to allow yourself to be drawn deeper into the negotiation. This puts you at risk for making concessions that jeopardize your position. When you see this temptation arising, back out of the negotiation. Depending on the situation, consider bringing in another stronger negotiator. This person might be your supervisor, or someone the other person may respect or might be able to relate to more easily. Understand the dynamics and body language when it comes to influence and act accordingly.
Something as important as sitting or standing during a negotiation can affect influence. Suppose one person stands while the other remains seated. How does this relate to influence? Ask yourself, “Does the person who is standing perceive herself as being in a superior position? Is she saying, “I’m bigger and more powerful?” The person who is standing will usually have the control. When you see your opponent standing, you should consider standing up also to neutralize the other person’s attempt to gain influence.
But let’s look at this body language from another point of view. Suppose the other person has a higher level of power. Think of a king sitting on a throne. In children’s books, the king is never shown as standing in front of his throne. He stays seated while his subjects come to him.
Let’s look at another situation about how sitting or standing is used to convey power and influence. Consider this scenario: Ellen Dewar was sitting behind her desk when George Alwick entered her office. They were both vice presidents of the same company. Ellen remained seated when George came up to her desk and shook her hand. George flared with resentment. He thought, “She thinks she is so important that she does not have to stand up while I shake her hand. That is really impolite.” If Ellen had stood up to shake George’s hand, she would be acknowledging through that action that she and George were equals. Ellen has already sent a message, intended or not, that set the tone for the negotiation.
Along with some colleagues, I had the opportunity to meet a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C. The senator sat in a chair as we were filing past him to shake his hand. I responded to what I believed his body language was saying: he felt he was a prestigious U.S. senator. I perceived him thinking, “Yes, lowly ones, you come by, shake my hand and if you’re really fortunate I’ll let you kiss my ring.” Believing that was what he was trying to project, I thought to myself, “Okay, Mr. Important, I’m going to see how long you sit in this chair when I shake your hand.” I shook his hand so hard he grimaced and stood up because of the pain I created. I said, “Oh, Mr. Senator, I’m sorry” in a cynical voice.
Consider the strategies you might use when the other negotiator is sitting and you are standing, such as changing the loudness of your voice. Speak slower or softer so the other person has to lean in or stand to hear you. And if you really want to drive the point home, you can literally start to get down to his level—you could bend or kneel down. Getting onto your knees should stimulate the other person to look for a way so that you could both sit or both stand. If the person was not deliberately trying to assume a position of power, you may receive an apology for putting you through the discomfort.
Subliminal Messages and Influence
As noted in Chapter 5, subliminal persuasion has a role in negotiation. Here’s an example of the use of subliminal messaging to influence others. Roberto Gomez was a graphic artist for a major publisher. Deborah Samuels worked with Roberto as the editor. The day before the first production meeting about the book, Deborah said, “Roberto, this is what the book is about.” As she described the book, Roberto leaned back, closed his eyes, and developed a strong sense of what color should be used for the cover. At the production meeting, he displayed his preference for the color of the book cover by wearing a tie that matched the color. Deborah observed the way Roberto sent subliminal messages through his choice of ties. “He wants a mauve cover for that book,” she realized. “I’m not so sure that is a good idea.”
When Roberto realized Deborah expected him to advocate for a color through his choice of a tie, he decided to exert his influence by switching his strategy. At the next production meeting, he wore a pink tie. Even though the two colors were closely aligned with one another, Deborah thought, “That’s ugly. I would never publish a book cover that’s pink. Let’s go with mauve.” Roberto knew he had achieved his goal of subliminally influencing Deborah by picking the pink color he knew she would hate and would drive her to his first choice of mauve.
This tactic is also called “reverse psychology”—sending a message that is opposite to what you want the person to do. Think of the parent who tells her teenager: “No, you don’t have to do your homework today. No, it’s not important, but if you do want to use the car … .” There’s also a subliminal message: “If one day you want to be able to buy a car as nice as this you may think about doing your homework today, tomorrow, and the next day. You will be able to afford a car like this by getting a better education.”
Overt persuasion is the opposite of subliminal messages. Leaning forward or backward, frowning, sitting, or standing are overt aspects of body language. You may use overt persuasion in the choice of your words. Consider a negotiating situation in which the other negotiator is your employee who wants to achieve more in her life. For example, you are discussing an opening in the department that would represent a move up for your employee. She wants to get that position so she can earn more money and prestige. You want to motivate her to make changes within the department so that she would be eligible for a promotion. You might say, “Here’s what will occur if you receive this promotion, and this is what you need to do to be considered.” You point out exactly what her goals are for the negotiation. You are overtly telling her if she follows this particular path that this will be the outcome that she will receive. She allows you to persuade and gain influence over her.
There are benefits of combining both overt and subliminal persuasion. For example, you note the other negotiator is skeptical about your intentions. He says, “I believe what you’re saying,” but you hear doubt in his voice. You respond to the subliminal message underlying the overt message by asking, “What is it that you’re hesitant about?” “Oh, I’m not hesitant,” he replies. What he has shown to you is that he doesn’t want to be perceived as hesitant. What does that mean from a negotiation point of view? You are aware he is hesitant but doesn’t want to be viewed as such, so you proceed keeping in mind his words and tone are in conflict.
Be careful of how you use overt and subliminal persuasion in a negotiation. Don’t allow one dimension to overwhelm the other. Both types of messages give you information about the other negotiator. When you send overt and subliminal messages, they should be congruent. Otherwise, you may be perceived as being dishonest. You may lose the influence and then you will definitely lose the ability to persuade.
Power strategies directly relate to your degree of influence. Power is fluid. You have it one moment; you don’t the next. Strategies you use when you have less power will result in different outcomes simply because the balance of power shifted. You risk further losses of your influence and persuasion ability. Your goal changes to regaining your power.
Social Proof and Influence
Marie Rivera walked into April Johnson’s office with the goal of negotiating a fee to become a sales consultant for April’s company. April said, “How do I know you are any good? Who else have you worked with?” Maria pulled out a stack of letters she received from satisfied clients, some were large, well-known companies. After April scanned the first few letters, she put them aside, and said, “Now, let’s talk.”
Social proof is used both before and during negotiation. It involves you gathering or referring to testimonials from satisfied clients in order to bolster credibility or increase your expert status. The people with whom you are negotiating have a need for safety and reassurance. Capitalize on this need. Point to a situation when you helped another client like them obtain a positive outcome. Social proof can reduce the anxiety of the other person with whom you’re negotiating.
Today’s savvy negotiator shares social proof through company websites, brochures, flyers, other marketing material, and social media. Past abuses involving the use of testimonials led to regulations to prevent fraudulent use of social proof. The most convincing social proof shares these characteristics:
✵ They are real comments by real people. The comments can be verified with written documentation.
✵ They are in video form. Video testimonials from well-known or respected people are the most credible.
✵ They include a photo of the person, if they are not in video form.
✵ The name, position, and location of the person are included: “Bill Walters, CEO of Wonderful Inc., New York, New York,” rather than “Bill W. from New York.”
✵ They are specific about some aspect of your services, rather than general comments like “Jan is terrific.”
✵ They include a measurable outcome that occurred as the result of working with you (such as “We saved our company $500,000 as the result of the negotiation strategies we learned from Greg Williams.”).
✵ The testimonials relate to the services you are offering to the client and are of comparable value. For example, if you are negotiating for a half-million-dollar contract, your testimonials should relate to other similar-size deals.
Optics and Influence
Optics encompass visual aspects of our behavior. How do you display that behavior? You walk into a negotiation in well-fitting clothes, like you are the proudest and most confident person in the world. You drive a fine car and live in a fine house. The other negotiator observes you and your behavior; your goal is that you are seen as credible. On the other hand, you may choose to downplay an air of success. For example, if you don’t want to pay more for a service than you have to, don’t walk into that situation projecting an air of wealth.
Optics play an important role in a negotiation. Consider this scenario: Salesmen avoided approaching a plainly dressed woman who walked into a furniture store. They reached conclusions about her based on her optics—her clothes, age, and race—and did not approach her. After she wandered around the store looking for help, one of the salesman decided to talk to her. To his delight, she bought furniture to fill an entire house, and paid for her purchase with the highest level of American Express credit card. The salesman who received a commission on her sale was thrilled he took the initiative to wait on her. His coworkers learned an important lesson about relying too heavily on optics.
I encountered a similar situation of not getting appropriate attention when I went into a Mercedes dealership to buy a new car. Spotting my casual clothing, the salesman who came up to me treated me as though I was there to kick the tires and basically dismissed me. I thought, “How dare you?” After I bought a new car from another dealership, I went back to the original dealership a few days later, asked to speak to the manager, and told him exactly what had occurred. The manager said, “We’ve gotten a lot of complaints about this individual. He’s no longer with us.” They had gotten rid of that person. This salesman dismissed me based on the optics—he concluded I did not have the money to purchase a car and thus he did not want to waste his time. The same thing may happen in a negotiation. Good negotiators know how to use optics to benefit their position and will do so.
Don’t be dismissive just because the optics appear to be out of alignment with the person’s mannerisms and ability to deliver.
Scarcity and Urgency
“Hurry now, there’s only five left and four people are on the line right now trying to grab them.” That’s scarcity used in a sales context. The concept of scarcity is most often encountered in sales situations and can be effectively used in a negotiation. A negotiator might use scarcity to apply pressure on the other person by saying there are only so many of whatever it is that you might be negotiating for: “Get it while you can get it. This is a rare find. Only a few of these exist.” Scarcity is used to increase a price or to stimulate a buying decision.
“The offer expires at midnight. Buy now.” That’s urgency woven into a sales pitch. Negotiators use urgency to press for a decision while the other negotiator would prefer to think it over and not make a commitment right at the moment.
There are risks associated with using scarcity and urgency. A savvy negotiator may call your bluff. Consider this scenario: Denny Sharmal sold beach equipment. He had 100 beach chairs in his storage room. He knew the season was changing and he needed to get rid of those chairs as fast as possible. Kara Knightly bought beach equipment at the end of the season. Denny decided to apply the influence factors of scarcity and urgency, and told her, “There are only a few left” (scarcity). “You better get them while they’re here and while they last” (urgency). Kara responded, “Okay, I’ll get back to you.”
Denny’s lie trapped himself in a corner from a negotiation perspective. When Kara returned a week later, Denny still had 100 beach chairs; he could not offload them to another buyer. What did Denny’s actions tell Kara? She now knew Denny used scarcity and urgencies as ploys. She thought, “I have all the power in this situation and Denny knows it. Denny is asking $10 for each chair but I know I can get them for $4. She called his bluff by offering $4 a piece. Denny learned the lesson and became cautious about how he used scarcity and urgency in his next negotiation. Be very cautious as to how you use scarcity and urgency in a negotiation because it can backfire on you.
My motto is, “You are always negotiating.” The strategies you use today set the stage for actions you will take in the future. Kara will remember that Denny was not truthful with her. She will not give Denny the level of influence he needs to negotiate with her in the future.
Social proof, scarcity, and urgency may be combined to conclude a negotiation. A coach might say, “I can only take on so many clients. I would like you to be one of them, but once I am at full capacity, I will need to create a waiting list and I can’t guarantee I will have space for you.” Consider this situation: Jessica Holmes offered a business coaching program; Laura Brasher was interested in the program. She knew she needed help, but she was hesitant to join. Sensing Laura’s indecision, Jessica explained, “I am enrolling people into the program at the rate of one or two a month. I currently have 12 people in the program and will cap it at 15. Laura, if you want to get the benefits of this program, now is the time to commit.” Jessica’s approach incorporates scarcity, urgency, and social proof. “Other people are joining the program” provided the social proof.
Jessica probed to find out what was preventing Laura from enrolling in the program. “You’ve expressed an interest in joining the program. You can see that others are coming into the program. What’s holding you back?” Laura responded, “I’m still not ready to come into the program.” Jessica inquired, “Just out of curiosity, so I could better know how to serve you, what’s the real reason that you don’t want to come into the program?” Laura replied, “I am taking on a partner in a few months and I am concerned about the expenses.” Jessica said, “If you became part of this coaching program we could work together to properly structure the business to absorb this new person. With my help, we can discuss her role and compensation. Perhaps you would be better off starting her as a subcontractor. We would discuss whether a partnership is the right role for her.”
Next, Laura said, “I know your help would be invaluable, but I am not ready to commit to the program. Could I have you on speed dial and call you whenever I have a problem?” Jessica gently rebuffed Laura’s attempt to negotiate a new service that Jessica was not prepared to supply. She knew that Laura might not become a coaching client then, but that Jessica’s expertise and positional power was strong enough that when Laura was ready for assistance, she would return.
Your ability to influence your opponent is made up of a mix of factors:
✵ your persuasiveness in introducing a new factor into the negotiation that sways her perspective,
✵ your beliefs about whether the negotiation is a win-win or win-lose situation and her perspective of the same,
✵ your body language, overt and subliminal messages, and
✵ careful use of scarcity and urgency.
When you have established your ability to influence the other person, you have a greater opportunity to reach an outcome that will satisfactorily conclude the negotiation.