Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 11, 2020

How to Negotiate With People Who Won’t Negotiate Effectively

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.

Advertising

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]

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

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

More by this author

Aytekin Tank

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

7 Science-Backed Ways To Stay Sharp, Alert And Focused Why Is Time Management Important For Peak Productivity? 6 Effective Leadership Skills in the Workplace How to Negotiate With People Who Won’t Negotiate Effectively 9 Positive Affirmations to Boost Your Work Morale

Trending in Communication

1 Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 1) 2 Take Back Your Personal Power (Part 2) 3 When You Start to Let Go of Your Past, These 10 Things Will Happen 4 How to Learn to Let Go of What You Can’t Control 5 10 Simple Steps to Let Go of the Past

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on January 24, 2021

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

Advertising

At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

Advertising

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Advertising

How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

    Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

    6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

    If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

    Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

    Final Thoughts

    Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

    Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

    Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

    More Tips on How to Say No

    Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
    [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
    [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

    Read Next