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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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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

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Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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