A good negotiator is a good “listener”. God gave us two ears but only one mouth so that we listen twice as much as we talk.
We should do it with interest. And actively. Negotiations tend to unfold in the following manner: A presents its position, B is so busy thinking what to say that it does not actually listen. B presents its position, A thinks B did not respond to what it said and wonders how to repeat it.
B also concludes that A did not listen as it should have and thus repeats its position, and so on, creating a dialogue between deaf people.
Listening is not the same as hearing. It implies the use of ears, eyes and heart to perceive the intention, the emotion and the feelings of the opponent.
Effective listening is not valued culturally. More frequently the speaker is valued more than the listener. There is the false notion that the one who speaks the most, knows the most… but it should not be forgotten that the one who speaks most also makes the most mistakes.
Listening is the most economic concession you can make to your opponent during negotiations. We all have a deep urge to be understood. When we satisfy this need, we create an opportunity to change the course of the negotiation. Listening allows opponents to air their thoughts, thus making them more willing to listen to you.
These are some recommendations:
- To be able to listen properly, you should first admit the fact that the others also think that they are right.
- The first thing that must be done is: be quiet.
- Secondly, you should not prepare a response while listening; try to understand the opponent in the same manner the opponents see themselves. Do not interrupt.
- Take notes. It is important. It helps gain time for thinking, it transmits your interest and avoids confusions, misunderstandings and important oversights.
- Maintain visual contact, write the questions that need to be answered, use body language to show attentiveness. Do not be distracted.
- Paraphrase. Show that you do understand.
- Acknowledge the opponent’s point of view. This does not necessarily mean you agree with the other person, but that you accept that their point of view is equally as valid as others and it implies the following: “I understand how you see things”. Also acknowledge his/her emotions. Do not ignore them.
- It is better to ask than to affirm. Affirmations tend to provoke resistance. Questions allow the other party to explain their needs and wishes. The moment you begin to share their feelings and impressions, you start closing in on the result. In the negotation simulator ‘Merchants‘, the importance of communication is highlighted in order to locate the interest of the other party, that allows both parties to reach an agreement.
What other recommendations can you share?