WHEN NEGOTIATING, HIGHLIGHT COMMON GROUND

Many times, you change your mind without putting up any resistance. But, when you are told “you are wrong” you put up a barrier because that judgment offends you. We form our beliefs in an unthinking way, and yet we are passionate when someone tries to deprive us of them. Why do we react like this? Because what feels threatened is your self-esteem, more than the concept of that idea itself.

Why do I tell you this? A negotiator who at the beginning of the negotiation starts with phrases such as “you are wrong” will illuminate opposing ideas in the other´s mind. It will arouse antagonism. It will put him on the defensive and make it almost impossible to change his mind. The negotiator who begins by saying, “I am going to teach you that …,” will also commit a mistake because they will activate the other´s opposition, who will think “nobody teaches me anything.” Would it not be more fruitful to initially point out what your listener and you believe to be true? Skilled negotiators give more attention to possible areas of common ground and not just to areas of conflict.

To resolve an argument we must start by finding a common ground, and not to emphasize that which separates us. When talking to your “opponent”, start by highlighting the points on which you both agree. Be patient and do not be easy to jump when the other thinks differently. A “no” as an answer is a difficult obstacle to overcome because when your opponent says “no” all the pride within his personality requires him to be consistent with himself. Once something is said he should stick to it to be consistent. Have the other person say “yes” from the beginning. This is what Maria, the owner of a shoe store, tells her salespeople: “Do not quarrel with the clients, even if you know they are wrong. The only thing you’ll get with that is to sell them less shoes.”

Give more attention to possible areas of common ground. Surely you will have a client who agrees with you 99%, but if that client doesn´t agree in that 1% that is left and tells you “I don´t agree,” you put all your attention in that minimum percentage of the discrepancy. If the other party only agrees with you on that weak 1%, tell him “I agree with you.” Concentrate on that 1% union! It is natural to emphasize differences of opinion initially because they are the cause of the problem. In your next negotiation it is better to start the conversation highlighting the points in which you both agree.

 

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