The art of negotiation

In the same way that a salesperson negotiates with their customer so that they will buy what they are selling, a negotiator sells their proposal to the other party in the best possible way. The art of negotiation is not about manipulating, but about knowing how to explain to the other party the benefits of the product (for the salesperson) or of our agreement (in the case of the negotiator).

During a negotiation, both sides will try to satisfy their interests. Reaching win-win agreements that will benefit either side of the table is possible and, besides, it is the most valued concept when it comes to reaching an agreement. Negotiating ethics prevails, making ideas such as trust, transparency, fairness and balance be the leitmotif during the negotiation stage.

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Persuasion is very present throughout this process. It is the most influential method because it actually convinces through arguments, not by force but through reason. But, what exactly is the art of persuasion?

Many studies have been made on persuasion and that which influences us when making a decision. One of the most relevant experts in this field is the American psychologist Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence, the psychology of persuasion“. It is from him that we are taking these principles of persuasion which have an influence on negotiations:

Principle of Reciprocity

People naturally tend to give back what they have previously received. Thus, in a negotiation, we will get trust if we have previously empathized with the other party. If we explain what our interests are, we will be in a better position to know, from the beginning, the other party’s interests. There is a predisposition to restore balance, to treat others as they treat us.

Principle of Scarcity

People are also naturally inclined to that which is advertised as scarce or limited. For instance, British Airways announced that they would reduce the frequency of the London-New York flights. The next day, ticket sales soared. In other words, it is the law of supply and demand.

Principle of Authority

Consciously or unconsciously, the truth is that human beings trust more those who have some experience and seniority. Thus, the clientele of a doctor or lawyer will be much more receptive if they can see the diplomas and certificates evidencing the professionalism of the person they are dealing with. When negotiating, we can make use of earlier agreements we have reached; and in the case of a long-term process it will be much easier. It is the power of credibility.

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Principle of Liking

We will have a much easier time reaching a satisfactory agreement if we have previously built some trust. The best way to do that is to establish some kind of link. The art of persuasion implies asking about potential concerns, creating empathy, sharing information, worrying about the other party, praising and flattering our interlocutor, etc.

Principle of Commitment and Consistency

Unconsciously, people try to show themselves as consistent with their behavior. Otherwise, the social perception would be that of weakness and even little intelligence. When negotiating, there is a certain “pressure” to behave in accordance with previously reached agreements, often less important than those required later.

These are the keys to persuading during a negotiation. It is not magic, but the ability to get the other party to understand our perspective in order to meet a common interest.

What do you do to persuade in your negotiations?

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