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Published on May 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.

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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.

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

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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 August 10, 2020

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

10 Principles for Success to Live Your Dream Life

Are you stressed out and overwhelmed, wishing you had more time to do the things that really matter? Are you ready to do something better, something special in your life or your career?

If you’re ready to do what you want in life, then the 10 principles of success are what you need to follow.

You were born with a gift that no one else in the world can express like you. When you dance to your own music, you naturally develop your innate abilities and excel in work and life. You are a total rock star. But when you live someone else’s idea of who you should be, it throws off your groove.

Many people—maybe you—stopped following their dreams way too early in life because their talents were ignored, minimized, or shamed. They didn’t have the chops to win an American Idol competition or nab an Olympic gold medal, so they stopped expressing their inborn gifts altogether.

You don’t need to be an award winner to rock your life. Living your dream life is about discovering your superpowers and feeling vibrant and joyful when you use them. It’s about owning what makes you unique and finding like-minded people to support you.

Here are 10 success principles to help you live a rich and rewarding life on your terms that have worked with thousands of people in my workshops and will work for you, too.

1. Get a Hobby to Move Closer to Your Dreams

If you never became a professional dancer or a world-renowned author, it does NOT mean you should stop dancing or writing! These activities make you come alive, even if you “only” do them as favorite pastimes.

Engaging in a hobby is one of the most important success principles you can follow to move closer to your dreams.

When you try something creative for the first time or in a long while, you begin to see opportunities at work and in life that you were unaware of before. You also feel happier and more energized, according to a recent study from New Zealand.[1]

Some of my most burned-out executive clients reinvigorated their careers by discovering a creative outlet that refueled them after the workday ended. Research at San Francisco State University shows that having a hobby lowers stress and helps you succeed at work.[2]

So, give yourself permission to try new things and revisit old passions you gave up long ago. Setting aside just one hour a week for personal exploration can significantly change your life.

Who knows? Your creative outlet could transform into a thriving business or lead to a new profession down the road.

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2. Focus on Your Strengths, Not Your Weaknesses

Did you know that you are more likely to succeed when you develop your natural strengths rather than work on your weaknesses? The problem is that you probably don’t know where your true talents lie.

Here are a few options to help you discover your unique strengths. You can:

  • Take the VIA Character Strengths Survey[3]
  • Try Gallup’s CliftonStrengths Assessment[4]
  • Answer a few Superpower Questions

Once you understand what makes you tick, you can use these skills at work and your personal life to get more done in less time. If you boost your unique abilities through practice and study, you can accelerate your career and become a leader in a field that matters to you. It’s worth investing in yourself this way.

3. Jumping off a Cliff is NOT Required

Here’s the deal: most people are too afraid to change. When participants first come to my workshops, they tell me they have mouths to feed, bills to pay, and fear that if they follow their dreams, someone will get hurt.

The old saying “leap and the net shall appear” does not comfort them. Because they are hesitant to plunge into the unknown, they believe their only option is to stay put where they are in life. Can you relate?

You do not have to sacrifice the life you have now to start a new one. I was a psychology professor by day and singer by night for years before I transitioned into a full-time music career.

Just take a little time out each week to do what enlivens you through a hobby, volunteer work, etc. Get a feel for it.

Is it what you really want? If so, increase the time you spend doing it and make the transition when the time feels right.

4. Give Your Inner Critic Some Love

The main culprit that keeps you from stepping outside your comfort zone and getting the life of your dreams is KCRP or K-CRAP – the radio station that plays 24/7 in your head. The moment you try to do something interesting with your life it slaps you down with such chart-topping killer hooks as “Who do you think you are?” and “You’ll never be good enough!”.

Have you ever noticed that KCRP’s mean-spirited DJ sounds like your parents, teachers, bosses, and other authority figures who shut you down creatively? These folks don’t need to stifle you any longer (although they often still do) because your inner critic does it for them. That keeps you stuck in a rut.

To break free, try thinking of this DJ as a gruff old grandfather who gives you crap to keep you safe. Remember, this grumpy grandpa is woefully out of touch with the times. So, his stern opinions don’t really matter much, do they? Give him a pat on the back for his good intentions, and put your focus back on what makes you come alive.

This success principle will give you the courage to venture into the unknown where you can dance to the beat of your own drummer.

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5. Embrace Your Inner Self

Many of us don’t go after our dreams because we’re afraid folks will find out how odd or strange we are. But our little eccentricities often turn out to be our greatest strengths. Yes, it’s good to be quirky.

Odds are, you lost track of your true passions and talents before you were even old enough to know you were getting off-track. You became slowly “adulterated” by learning to:

  • Take on family roles that don’t match who you really are.
  • Spit back what teachers taught you in school rather than risk getting bad grades for being original.
  • Hide parts of yourself that don’t seem acceptable to certain social groups.

The price for fitting in is that you may wind up leading a life that doesn’t fit you all that well. Your true calling becomes clear when you embrace what makes you different from others and allow yourself to stand out from the crowd, even if it feels awkward. Often, the very qualities you view as your flaws are your greatest gifts.

Here’s How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment.

6. See the Bigger Picture to Find Your True Calling

I cannot stress the importance of this success principle enough. Your true calling is right in front of you. But you may miss it because you’re looking for it in the wrong place.

To “see” it clearly, try widening your point of view.

Case in point: Maria felt she needed to retire early from being a police detective, so she could travel abroad. I encouraged Maria to think of ways that she could continue to serve as a law enforcer (a career she loved) and travel overseas at the same time.

A few months later, Maria landed a job with the United Nations in Bosnia training the local police force to understand and embrace human rights procedures.

Like Maria, you are an everyday rock star capable of accomplishing greater things than you can imagine. Is what you’re looking for right in front of you, too? Do you have an inkling of what it may be?

Look beyond your day-to-day activities, your current job, and even the town you live in. View your life from an eagle’s perspective and be open to new possibilities.

7. Try a Little Wish-List Magic

Pretend I’m your fairy godmother and I give you permission right now to be your most magnificent self. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy. Write it down on a wish list.

Get quiet. Be honest. Think big.

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What would you like your career, your relationships, your health, your finances, and your spiritual life to be like? Jot down enough details so that your wishes seem tangible to you. Then, look at this list every morning before you start your day and every night before you go to sleep.

Sounds silly? It’s not. It works! Permitting yourself to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to manifesting it.

8. Take Breaks to Get Clues About Your Ideal Future

Did you know that working straight through to a deadline leads to diminishing returns? Research shows that taking a break for 15 minutes every 75 to 90 minutes can help you recharge, refresh your focus, and get more done in less time.[5]

Wait, it gets better! A Stanford study shows that walking increases your creative output increases by 60 percent. Doing repetitive activities such as walking, running, riding your bike, swimming, and sweeping allow solutions to problems to pop into your mind out of nowhere.[6]

What does this success principle have to do with creating your dream life?

These mini-breaks allow you to get vital clues for what to do next to attain your ideal future. Plus, you won’t waste precious time and energy getting lost in other people’s agendas.

9. Take Action on Your Inspired Ideas

Once an inspired thought pops into your mind, take action.

This is one of the most powerful success principles for turning your dreams into reality; the sooner the better. Whatever it is—from calling an old friend to taking a new route home—be sure to do it!

Pay attention to your oddball hunches. You need to go after what you want, not just dream about it. As comedian Jim Carrey warns,

“You can’t just visualize and go eat a sandwich.”

10. Count Your Rockstar Moments

Still not sure you have what it takes to get your dream life? This final success principle is guaranteed to help.

Make a list of everything you’ve ever accomplished. As you read back through it, put a star next to each item, and let it sink in.

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You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how good you’ll feel about yourself afterward. You’ll also see how effective you’ve been in the past at getting what you want. You’ve succeeded before, you can succeed again.

You already rock. You just need to own it. Trust me, you’ve got this!

Final Thoughts

Eleanor Roosevelt said,

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Following these success principles will help you find the time and energy to do the things that really matter and live with clear intention.

By spending just one hour a week doing something you love, focusing on your strengths and achievements, embracing what makes you different, and acting on inspired ideas, you can create a life that is a perfect fit for you, step-by-step.

If you don’t have a clue about what your dream life could look like yet, don’t worry. Your heart knows. It has been “talking” to you for a long time. It’s just being muffled by KCRP, buried under a lot of “shoulds” and fear.

This article can also help you figure out the life you truly want to live: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up.

Stand still, get quiet, and listen. It’s constantly telling you what you need to do to realize your own rockstar potential. It may be just a whisper now, but the more you pay attention to it, the louder it will get, and the easier it will be to follow.

More About Success in Life

Featured photo credit: Rahul Dey via unsplash.com

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