We often associate negotiation with being tough or manipulative. While there are certainly situations where that’s the case, a great deal of the recent research says we can improve our results by thinking more about making friends than waging war.
A great deal of what it takes to influence others, gain their compliance and lead successful negotiations is just good advice on how to be a decent person.
- Be warm. We value warmth more than competence. Happy people are better negotiators. Making small talk — even when it had nothing to do with the issue at hand — dramatically increased the fairness of offers and the rate at which they were accepted. Compliments (even obvious flattery) work.
- Be optimisitc. Feeling positive about negotiations makes them more likely to work out and both parties happier with the result.
- Listen. Listening to people and asking them to tell you more makes people like you more and makes them more receptive. Listening is the fundamental skill for FBI hostage negotiators. You can learn how to be a better listener here and here.
- Don’t assume the other guy is out to get you. People are often kinder than you think. Mistrust is self-fulfilling, as is expecting others to be selfish. The most powerful strategy is often as simple as tit-for-tat. Taking advantage of the other guy, not reciprocating and being too clever have all been shown to backfire frequently.
For more on how to be a better negotiator, from the former lead international hostage for the FBI, click here.
This piece originally appeared on Barking Up the Wrong Tree.
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