Earlier on in this series I discussed how listening is a critical part of skilled negotiation. It goes without saying that to listen effectively, you need to be quiet. In this post I want to look a little deeper in other benefits of taking a quieter approach to negotiation.
Quiet builds relationships
Whether you are naturally quieter or have to work hard to be so, focusing on taking a quieter role in the conversation can assist you in building deeper connections with your counterpart. Many people enter a negotiation with a degree of fear or concern. This can set up a fight or flight response which leads to sub-optimal negotiation behaviours. If you can make them feel safe, listened to and valued, you will reduce the chances that they will have this response. A more open conversation is likely to result.
Quiet can slow things down
On the face of it, slowing things down may seem counterproductive. After all, we all live in a busy, busy world and time seems to be in short supply. However, what we often see in business is that decisions made in a rush tend to not be fully implemented or problems turn up in the implementation process. We then need to go back to the drawing board spending more time to get things right. Slowing down from the start may mean decisions take longer, but should result in better decisions.
Quiet learns more
One of the sayings I use in most of my workshops is “When you speak you repeat what you already know. When you listen, you may learn something new”. This is one of the big advantages of being quiet during a negotiation.
Interestingly, we are all impacted by a psychological bias that causes us to focus on finding information which confirms our beliefs. We therefore can come into a negotiation not only believing that we are “right” but also that we have all the relevant information. It seems pointless to listen to the other side because we know they are wrong and they won’t convince us otherwise. If we consciously decide to quietly listen for a while, we may just discover that there is indeed other information and perhaps we weren’t as “right” as we thought.
If we are really lucky, we may even learn something that allows us to create an even better deal than what we had planned.
What is your experience of switching to quiet mode in a negotiation? Is it something that comes naturally or something you need to work at?
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