The Art of Negotiation
Using the “No” Technique to win negotiations.
I almost forgot about this Newsletter until injury time. I am happy my subconscious came to the realization though. At the time I remembered, I couldn't finish up the book I had planned to review so I searched into the jottings of the books I had read to see the one I can share with you, my special person.
As though all forces wanted to align for my sake, I then heard a voice from a video saying, “the most powerful person on a negotiation table is the one who has nothing to lose from the negotiation”. A-ha! Let me review “Never Split the Difference”.
The book was written by a master negotiator, Christopher Voss, with Tahl Raz.
Please, grab your popcorn because we're about to discover negotiation secrets that can change the game in both your personal and professional life!
Book in a Nutshell
"Never Split the Difference" is not your typical negotiation book; it's a journey into the psychology of communication and persuasion. Christopher Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, shares his real-life experiences and insights into the art of negotiation. Whether you're haggling over a business deal, convincing an employer about salary raise, or your babe wants an iPhone 15 pro max, the principles in this book can be applied to any negotiation scenario. Voss teaches us that empathy, active listening, and tactical empathy can turn even the toughest negotiations into win-win situations.
In the early '90s, Christopher Voss was called upon by the FBI to negotiate with a group of kidnappers who had abducted an American man working in the Philippines. The kidnappers demanded a substantial ransom for the victim's release.
Voss engaged in a series of intense conversations with the kidnappers over the phone. However, instead of resorting to traditional negotiation tactics, he decided to employ tactical empathy. He listened carefully to the kidnappers' concerns, acknowledged their fears and frustrations, and built a rapport with them.
During these negotiations, Voss discovered that the kidnappers were not experienced criminals but desperate individuals facing financial hardship. They were worried about getting caught and were struggling to manage the hostage situation.
Voss realized that the key to a successful resolution lay in understanding the kidnappers' emotional state and providing them with a face-saving solution. Through strategic conversations and empathetic communication, he managed to secure the release of the hostage without paying the full ransom.
This real-life story highlights the power of tactical empathy in negotiation. The ability to connect with the person you are negotiating with on a human level and address their underlying concerns while making your case is crucial.
Few quotes from the book
“Your goal is to identify and lower the other person's guard so they allow themselves to be influenced by you.”
“Negotiation is often seen as a battle to be waged rather than a problem-solving exercise.”
“Your tone of voice is often more important than the words you say.”
“The key is tactical empathy - understanding the feelings and mindset of the other side.”
Three Actionable Lessons and Our Game Plan
1. Master the Art of Mirroring: One of Voss's most powerful techniques is mirroring, where you repeat the last few words your counterpart said. This simple yet effective tool can create a sense of connection and encourage the other party to open up.
2. Practice Tactical Empathy: Understand that empathy isn't just about sympathy; it's about comprehending the emotions and needs of the other side. Use tactical empathy to build trust and gain valuable insights into their perspective.
3. Create a Black Swan: A "black swan" is an unexpected, game-changing offer. Voss encourages us to surprise our counterparts with a bold and unanticipated proposal. It can disrupt their thinking and lead to more favorable outcomes.
Basic Concepts from the Book
The Negotiation Stakes: Voss explains how every negotiation has three levels of stakes: deal, relationship, and identity. Recognizing and addressing these levels can lead to better outcomes and stronger relationships.
The Accusation Audit: This technique involves addressing potential objections or concerns before your counterpart can voice them. It disarms them and allows for smoother negotiation.
The "No" Technique: This technique is a powerful and counterintuitive approach to negotiation that can lead to more productive discussions and better outcomes. The author suggests that getting the other party to say "no" can be a strategic move in negotiation.
Here's how it works:
Start with an Open-Ended Question: Instead of asking questions that can be answered with a simple "yes" or "no," begin with open-ended questions. For example, instead of asking, "Do you agree with our proposal?" you might ask, "How do you feel about our proposal?"
Encourage "No" Responses: When the other party responds, encourage them to say "no" if that's their genuine sentiment. This might seem counterproductive, but it serves a crucial purpose. By saying "no," the other party feels empowered to voice their objections and concerns.
Deepen the Conversation: After they've said "no," it's essential to follow up with "why" or "tell me more." This encourages them to explain their perspective and elaborate on their objections. It provides valuable insights into their concerns and allows you to address them effectively.
Build Rapport and Trust: The act of allowing the other party to say "no" and express their concerns demonstrates that you're genuinely interested in understanding their viewpoint. It builds rapport and trust, as they see you as someone who listens and values their input.
Guide the Conversation Towards Resolution: Once you've uncovered their objections and concerns, you can work collaboratively to find solutions that address those issues. By doing so, you're more likely to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties.
The "No" technique is rooted in the idea that "no" is not the end of a negotiation but rather a stepping stone toward a more fruitful discussion. It encourages transparency, uncovers hidden issues, and ultimately paves the way for mutually beneficial outcomes.
Important to mention that you have to prepare for negotiation the same way you prepare for examinations. I hope you'll be going to your next negotiation table armed with the lessons from this book. You might as well want to pick it up to read more.
See you next time 😉
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