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The Killer Formula to Make Your Argument Convincing

The Killer Formula to Make Your Argument Convincing

What do you expect when you enter into a negotiation? Do you expect to win, lose, or settle? One thing you can expect is to expect the unexpected. Many of us think we enter a negotiation thinking we must settle, but what if you knew a strategy to increase the likelihood of winning every time?

Think of this in the form of an analogy. If your emotions were the buttons on a remote control, would you give the remote to the person you are negotiating with? If the person does possess the remote control, then you better know the buttons. [1]

Let’s take a look at the strategy to win in every negotiation and how you can use it.

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The Winning Formula = Emotion + Logic + Repetition

What tactics would Aristotle have used during a negotiation? Well, he actually told us what he would use. They are The Modes of Persuasion: Aristotle referred to his ethical strategy as Ethos + Pathos + Logos (Appeal to Authority + Appeal to Emotion + Appeal to Logic). Similarly, Maria Ploumaki informs us that the elements to the art of negotiation include: Emotion + Logic + Repetition. She says that cold facts and evidence alone will not be as appealing as presenting your ideas within a emotional appeal. [2]

Ploumaki sees negotiation as a combination lock, where we have 3 rotating dials (Emotion + Logic + Repetition). By understanding these elements, we will have a better chance of remaining calm when we find ourselves in a defensive position. She compared this to someone pushing us from the side as we are walking toward a destination. When this happens, we are typically forced off our destination. What we should do is immediately stop, stay calm, and reposition ourselves toward the original target.

Let’s look at each of the elements in details:

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1. Utilize emotions for a successful negotiation.

Chris Voss is a former negotiator for the FBI and author of the book Never Split the Difference. Voss developed his negotiating skills in tense situations, situations where lives were literally on the line. Where most people liken negotiating to keeping a poker face, Voss uses a different approach and strives to influence people’s emotions. In his view, emotions are not obstacles, they are the means to a successful negotiation. Here are 5 techniques he uses to win every negotiation and get what he wants. [3]

  • Mirror words selectively. Simply repeat the last one to three words your counterpart says. Additionally, use what Voss calls the “late night FM DJ voice” and slow the conversation down.
  • Tactical empathy. Voss recommends we list the worst things that the other party could say about you and say them before they can.
  • Get to No. Pushing people to a “yes” makes them defensive, so trigger a “no” instead. Voss recommends using no-oriented questions, such as “Is now a bad time to talk?”
  • Get to That’s Right. Voss recommends trying to trigger a “that’s right” response by reaffirming how your counterpart feels. He says the moment you have convinced the other person you understand their feelings is when breakthrough happens.
  • The illusion of control. If you want to gain the upper hand in any negotiation then you must create the illusion of control. Voss recommends forcing the other person to use their mental energy to figure you out. He recommends using questions beginning with “How?” or “What?” in order to elicit this type of energy drain from the other person.

2. Logically approach the situation and make your arguments presentable.

Logic alone will not work. It’s not just the facts, perception changes the way we see things. I am reminded of a quote from Albert Einstein

“Not everything that can be counted counts; not everything that counts can be counted.”

Let’s take a look at 4 actionable steps in order to get what we want during a negotiation. [4]

  • Assess. We must first assess the situation by conducting a cost/benefit analysis. Ask yourself if you have any influence over the final outcome.
  • Prepare. Before starting any negotiation, first try to understand what you are attempting to achieve. Then try to understand your counterparts’ true interests.
  • Engage. Every dispute or negotiation involves information. Neale encourages us to look at disputes as opportunities to negotiate as we have information they want.
  • Package it. Always package your issues. Do not negotiate issue by issue; instead, propose alternative solutions to your counterpart through packages. Neale recommends using If-Then language, such as: “If I give you this, Then I get…”

3. Never allow your buttons to be pushed and repeatedly bounce back.

People are eventually persuaded if something happens often enough. This is the repetition principle and it works. Our brains are awesome pattern-matchers and repetition creates a pattern.[5] Let’s take a look at how Ploumaki uses repetition.

  • Expect the unexpected. It doesn’t matter how many negotiations you have been a part of, they will all be different. Always enter a negotiation expecting the unexpected to occur, because it will.
  • Leave your comfort zone. The moment you feel comfortable is the moment you get in trouble. This is also when you stop developing. You will never win in your comfort zone.
  • Never be left without options. Be willing to back away from any negotiation. There might exist constraints limiting the other party; however, these may change over time. What’s not negotiable today may be negotiable tomorrow. [6]
  • Always act, never react. Prepare for tough question during a negotiation and don’t hide from them. Most importantly, remember what people do is their choice, how you react is your choice.

To consistently make the formula work, separate a good deal from a bad deal.

Stanford Professor Margaret Neale provides a way to win in any negotiation through accessing the situation. She informs us that the goal of negotiation is not to get a deal, but to get a good deal. We must know what separates a good deal from a bad deal. To do this, we need 3 pieces of information. [7]

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  1. What is the alternative? Think about what would happen to you if the negotiation fails. The person with the better alternative will typically win.
  2. What is our reservation price? Neale says that this is our point of indifference or our bottom line. You must know what yours is.
  3. What is our aspiration? Neal informs us that this is the most important, yet the most overlooked piece of information. This is our optimistic assessment of what we think we can achieve during the negotiation.

If you remember anything from this formula, always remember the importance our emotion plays in any negotiation.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Lastly, think of your negotiation as a deck of cards and ask yourself one simple question… Who holds the high card?

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Featured photo credit: Flaticon via flaticon.com

Reference

[1] TED x Talks: The art of negotiation TEDx Talks
[2] Maria Ploumaki: The art of negotiation TEDx Talks
[3] Time.com: 5 tactics to win a negotiation, according to an FBI agent
[4] Margaret Neale: Negotiating getting what you want
[5] Changingminds.org: Repetition principle
[6] Harvard Business Review: 15 rules for negotiating a job offer
[7] Margaret Neale: Negotiating getting what you want

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Dr. Jamie Schwandt

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

Reference

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