Negotiation is simply an exchange of information aimed at reaching an agreement. However, supervisors need to be conscientious when it comes to negotiating with their employees.
During negotiations, it is critical for any supervisor or manager to be able to communicate clearly, concisely, and persuasively, use probing skills to uncover interests, needs, and information, to invent solutions, and to actively listen to ensure understanding, information gathering, and to build relationships.
Here are 5 things every supervisor should know about negotiating:
1. Identify and use different probing & questioning techniques
It is important to try to determine what the goals, interests, or needs of the other person are when negotiating. In order to find this out, you must use probing skills. With probing questions, you may find out answers to questions you haven’t even asked.
Probing questions are powerful and allow you to encourage the other side to expand their answers, gain information and thus leverage, clarify information, and more.
You can use different probing techniques, most of which are open-ended questions. Use broader probing questions to open up new areas of discussion. Other probing questions are used to attain more detailed information and specific facts.
You can also use clarification probes to make sure that you’ve understood what is being communicated both verbally and nonverbally, when you want to better understand, and/or when you want to further explore.
2. Identify and use active listening techniques
Most professionals (and people) tend to think they are better listeners than they really are. Active listening includes both verbal and nonverbal skills that are key to implementing a successful negotiation.
During a negotiation, active listening can help avoid these traps:
- Preparing what to say (instead of truly listening) as the other side is talking
- Listening exclusively to what is stated instead of what might be implied by non-verbal communication
- Letting emotional filters or blinders prevent one from really hearing what the other side has said
There are three noteworthy response types you can use to enhance your active listening skills: paraphrasing, responding empathetically, or using a combined approach. When it comes to paraphrasing, it’s important that you aren’t adding or taking anything away or revealing your opinion of what they said. Empathetic responses demonstrate to the other person that you understand how they feel about the topic. When a person shows emotion, combining paraphrasing with empathetic responses is a very powerful tool.
Active listening is beneficial for a number of reasons. It clarifies information, forces you to pay attention, builds trust and rapport with the other person, encourages the other person to reveal information, and more.
3. Understand nonverbal communication
Nonverbal cues are informative in the art of negotiation because some can be irrepressible. Nonverbal cues tend to be quickly and automatically processed. In order to accurately assess nonverbal cues, question your initial assumptions and consider the context of interaction.
Experts suggest that the best way to detect dishonesty or deception is triangulation, which is the reliance on several assessment methods such as verbal cues, nonverbal cues, and outside evidence.
When it comes to using nonverbal cues yourself, make sure that they are consistent with what you are trying to communicate verbally. Use nonverbal cues to emphasize key points, enhance verbal communication, and build rapport and trust.
4. Build the relationship
When conducting the negotiation, be sure to build the relationship between you and the other party. By building the relationship, you are setting yourself up for a smoother exchange of information.
There are many ways you can build the relationship with the other person. Start with small talk. Approaching negotiation as an opportunity for mutual problem solving is a great way to start the relationship off on the right foot.
Other relationship building tactics include actively listening, demonstrating your competence, being aware of cultural differences, over communicating, and ensuring that your nonverbal cues are matching your verbal communication.
It’s also crucial to consider the other person’s social style when negotiating. Different social styles have different strengths and weaknesses. By understanding the other person’s social style not only are you able to adjust your communication to a way that will be well-received, but you are able to build a better relationship with them.
5. Manage difficult negotiation tactics and difficult people
Negotiating isn’t always easy. Sometimes the other party will use difficult tactics or “dirty tricks.” It’s important to know what those tricks are and how to deal with them.
A few examples of difficult negotiation tactics include, intimidation, good cop/bad cop, deceit, aggression, and ultimatum.
In addition to difficult tactics, there are also “difficult” people who tend not to get along well with others. Dealing with difficult tactics and/or difficult people can be challenging when not trained to do so.
The following are a few ways you can manage difficult negotiation tactics and difficult people:
- Build a working relationship independent of the negotiation
- Use positive emotion against negative emotion
- Disentangle relationship issues from substantive issues and negotiate them separately
- Watch your tone of voice, body language, and reactions
- Try a cooling off period if things get too heated
A successful negotiation is one in which both parties are able to come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Managers and supervisors must be well trained to communicate effectively, build rapport, and be prepared to deal with a difficult situation in order to reach a desirable outcome. The skill of negotiation is just one of many crucial skills that supervisors should have.