How to Take Control of Negotiations

How to Take Control of Negotiations

The Black Swan Group will be leading a negotiation workshop at the 2018 BKBG Annual Conference at the Marriott Sawgrass Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Verda, FL (Jacksonville). In a recent blog post, the company offered four steps for taking control of negotiations.

A key to taking control of a conversation is to give the other party the illusion that they are taking the lead. In order to do so, you need to take advantage of the following tactics:

  1. Labels
  2. Effective Pauses
  3. Calibrated Questions
  4. Tone of Voice

Black Swan says that most people when negotiating make the common mistakes of asking closed-ended (yes or no) questions and speaking too much. Instead of closed-ended questions, Black Swan encourages you to use choice questions. For a kitchen and bath showroom this may be “We have prepared a 20-page detailed specification for your housing project. Would you like for us to review the spec or simply give you the highlights in an executive summary?” Giving choices is a technique to help lead your prospect where you want them to go.

Phrases such as it seems like, sounds like or looks like work help to obtain the information that is most important to your prospect. If you are negotiating with a builder, a response such as “It seems like that you are under significant deadline pressure. When do you need our kitchens?”

Silence is golden. Speaking too much and believing that if you control the conversation you control the negotiation is a fallacy. After a great question, stay silent and let the prospect talk. 90 percent of the time they will.

Calibrated questions have an emotional affect. Black Swan says that the most effective and least threatening questions ask how and what. “What’s the biggest challenge you see with your project?” Instead of asking three what or how questions consecutively, Black Swan advises to ask the same question three different ways. “What are the biggest challenges you see with your project?” “What are the major obstacles that you need to overcome?” “What causes the most problems?”

If your prospect tries to use a choice question on you, a good response to take control of the conversation is “How am I supposed to answer that?”

Black Swan says that tone of voice is the artist’s touch to negotiation. Smiling encourages prospects to respond. 95 percent of the time, Black Swan, advises using the smile technique and the other 5 percent of the time to use the late-night DJ voice that is both completely calm and authoritarian. At the right moment, calmly but firmly state, what is non-negotiable.


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