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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

How to Negotiate With People Who Won’t Negotiate Effectively

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How to Negotiate With People Who Won’t Negotiate Effectively

When you hear the word “negotiation,” your first thought might be high-stakes corporate deals or the occasional salary discussion with your boss. However, the truth is that every day presents opportunities to learn how to negotiate, whether you’re attempting to secure a refund on a hotel booking or having it out with your spouse about whose turn it is to do the dishes.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, tensions are running especially high, and you might find yourself faced with more aggressive counterparts who make finding common ground seem almost impossible.

To help you get started, here are some expert-backed tips on how to negotiate, especially with people who refuse to play nice.

Before the Negotiation Begins

Before you ever begin discussions with the other party, take some time to consider the following.

Explore Possible Solutions

One of the most important parts of the negotiation process happens before it even begins: thinking through possible solutions so that you arrive at the discussion prepared. To take it one step further, anticipate how the conversation could go and how you’d like to respond.

For example: If my boss says it’s too soon to consider a promotion, I’ll highlight my contributions to our team and the value I’ve created.

By doing your homework ahead of time, not only will you feel more confident, but you’ll also signal to your counterpart that you’re invested in the outcome.

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Before difficult negotiations, Susan Hackley, Managing Director of Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, recommends running through the following questions[1]:

  • What are your hot-button issues?
  • What is essential to you?
  • What is unacceptable?
  • What you are likely to hear from your opponent?
  • How will you react?

It’s like golfing: Jack Nicklaus recommends that golfers take lessons on the most basic skills like grip and alignment. As Hackley writes: “[I]f your setup is sound, there’s a decent chance you’ll hit a reasonably good shot.”

Make sure you’re prepared before you set foot on the golf course.

Be a Giver

It’s natural to head into a negotiation focusing on what you stand to gain. Negotiating tends to feel adversarial, and we worry about winning or losing.

Take as much as you can, right?

Research, however, has shown that being generous while negotiating may be a sign of intelligence. Furthermore, these smarter people, who New York Times contributor Adam Grant calls “givers,” tend to make their counterparts better negotiators, too.

Grant writes, “The most successful negotiators cared as much about the other party’s success as their own.”[2]

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Beginning from a place of generosity — focusing on how you can meet your counterpart’s needs and not just satisfy your own — can prove beneficial for both sides of the negotiation, and not to mention, help form stronger, more harmonious long-term relationships.

During Negotiations

Once you’re in the middle of the process, focus on the following to help it move in a positive direction.

Ask Questions to Uncover Hidden Motivations

Heading into a negotiation, most people focus on their objective and what they’re going to say. However, according to experts, listening is even more critical to discovering the best solution for both parties. Former F.B.I. negotiator Chris Voss explains: “We like to say that the key to flexibility is don’t be so sure of what you want that you wouldn’t take something better. If you’re focused on the number, you’re not seeing the other possibilities.”[3]

Let’s say you’re taking on additional childcare duties and want to ask your supervisor for more flexible hours. At the outset, your supervisor refuses. You might assume she’s being unfair, but only by asking questions and listening can you discover her reasoning and try to find an alternative solution that’s mutually satisfying. Maybe she trusts you the most to handle a certain responsibility; or perhaps she’s run into problems with giving employees increased flexibility in the past.

It might be worth it to dig a little deeper before you throw your hands up and walk away from the negotiating table, figuratively or IRL.

Involve Your Counterpart in Finding a Solution

In his book, Getting Past No: Negotiating with Difficult People, William Ury, co-founder of Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation, offers a brilliant method for dealing with hard bargainers. He proposes changing the game “from face-to-face confrontation into side-by-side problem solving,” restructuring the alignment of a typical negotiation.

Imagine there are two teams working toward the same goal: an agreement. When you deal with a hostile negotiator, they’re likely to reject any initial proposal. However, if you offer them options and the opportunity to find a solution together, you might be surprised at how they let their guard down and participate in the problem-solving process.

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For example, say you want to convince your boss that your company should change its software, and your sights are set on a particular option. If your boss tends to stonewall change, especially when suggested by someone else, try presenting a few options and working through the reasoning for each. Focus on the big picture and emphasize how your proposal will advance the organization’s goals.

Instead of presenting a single idea, which can be knocked down with a simple “no,” allow your counterpart to come to a solution on his/her own — with some gentle nudging towards the one you previously chose.

Keep Aggression at Bay

There’s a big misconception in the business world, and it’s this: you have to be a hard bargainer to get ahead. If your counterpart is aggressive, then you better be even more aggressive.

But guess what?

Research has shown that aggression, in fact, doesn’t help either party in a negotiation at all. A recent study found that anger — both interpersonal anger (when the other party is angry at you) and intrapersonal anger (being angry at the other party) — led to less profitable outcomes in the negotiation process. In other words: neither party negotiates as well when one person is angry.[4]

Instead, try to keep your calm, or as William Ury describes it: Go to the balcony. That means “[taking] yourself mentally to a place where you can look down objectively on the dispute and plan your response.” By removing your emotions from the situation, you can proceed more productively and, hopefully, diffuse a high-stress situation.

Last-Ditch Efforts

If nothing seems to be working and it looks like all is lost, use these techniques to get things back on track.

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Loop in Others

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our negotiation counterpart refuses to play nice. Maybe they’re a deliberate hard bargainer or just plain obstinate. That’s when it’s time to loop others into the process.

You might be wondering: how will this help?

For starters, oftentimes, a difficult person is likely to be on better behavior when held accountable by more than one person. What’s more, whether you cc: relevant people (but taking care not to over cc: anyone) or invite third parties into the meeting, you’re creating a record of your good-faith efforts to come to an agreement.

Preserve the Relationship

Whoever you’re negotiating with, chances are they can have an impact on your life — whether it’s the trajectory of your career, the success of a business deal, or simply the hotel room you’ll be staying in for the weekend. It pays to conclude a negotiation, even an unsuccessful one, by reminding your counterpart of your respect for them.

A genuine sentiment of appreciation, or even a little light-heartedness, can go a long way. As former F.B.I. negotiator Chris Voss advises:

“Never be mean to someone who can hurt you by doing nothing. If you’re good, they’ll be delighted to do for you whatever they can. A playful, enjoyable attitude gives you latitude.”[5]

You might not get the raise or the hotel room, but maybe something else can be done, even if that means just a more favorable outcome next time.

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Hopefully, these strategies can help you make your next negotiation more successful and less stressful for both parties.

More Tips on How to Negotiate

Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

Reference

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Aytekin Tank

Founder and CEO of JotForm, sharing entrepreneurship and productivity tips at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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