We saw yesterday that the body language at the moment of the opening offer—The Flinch—is very important. But actually, body language and general attitude is important all the way through the negotiating process. Generally, your objective is to build an atmosphere of cooperation so the other person is more likely to give you what you want. If they don’t feel positive toward you, then it’s going to be much harder to get to an agreement.
Here are 5 ideas for building a feeling of friendly cooperation:
1. Always be nice! Smile, be polite, compliment them on the item they are selling or their good taste in what they are buying, or compliment anything else about them, like their car or their house or their watch or their dog—anything you can genuinely comment on favorably. The negotiation will be easier and more fruitful if they like you.
2. Blame your outrageous opening offer on yourself. If you’re hoping to buy a house and you are opening very low, don’t say the house is rubbish and not worth their optimistic and unrealistic price. Just say you like the house but you can’t afford it, you don’t get paid very much and your kids are costing you a lot, etc. Always blame it on yourself; never accuse them of being mean or greedy.
3. Don’t look keen. While being nice, don’t tell them that it’s the only house you have found or that they are the only customer who has come along recently. This will obviously weaken your position. Remain casual about whether you buy or sell it—“We’ll see. Hopefully, a deal can be done”—and that you just don’t know yet.
4. Don’t lie. This is an odd one, since the whole process of negotiation is a kind of deception—after all, each offer you make is implied to be your final one, and yet, you are really prepared to go further. But what I mean is: Never lie directly about numbers. Never say, “This part costs $100,” when it’s really only $30, because if you do, they might know the real cost, or they might have a feeling from your body language that you’re lying. There is also a risk that they might say, “Okay, then I’ll miss it out and have $100 off.” Who knows where the lies will take you! The good news is that you don’t have to lie. There are several good alternatives, which are: a) to use feelings like, “I wouldn’t be happy with X”; b) to say, “It depends,” (it depends how many you buy, it depends on the overall package); and c) to say, “I’m not allowed to tell you that figure / I don’t know / I don’t have access to that information.”
5. Think about where you sit. Don’t confront face to face across a table but sit at 90 degrees. If you HAVE to be across a table, then at least turn sideways so you don’t look as if you’re squaring up to a fight. If you’re first to sit down, pick a position where they can’t sit directly across from you. Sit in the right place and it’ll all go more smoothly.
So, those are a few tips on how to get the right atmosphere for encouraging progress in your negotiations. Have a quick review now and think about which of my 5 areas you could improve on and use in your next negotiation. I’ll see you tomorrow for Lesson 5, which is about how to get from your opening offer to an agreement.
Bye for now!
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