How to Instantly Improve Your Negotiation Skills

 

Negotiating is a fact of life.

We negotiate for everything: homes, cars, where to get toilet paper during the Coronavirus pandemic, who’s going to walk the dog, etc.

Negotiation is behavior modification through applied psychology. What does that mouthful mean?

We are trying to modify someone else’s behavior by appealing to their thoughts and emotions. There’s nothing sinister or underhanded about that unless you start lying to try to manipulate someone’s thoughts or feelings.

There are plenty of examples of unethical persuasion in the marketplace. I don’t need to tell you that.

But since I’m in this for the long game and I’ve been in business for 25+ years with a stellar reputation, that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about breaking down and understanding the psychology of negotiating so you can get what you want in your life and your business.

In life (and in your business) you don’t get what you deserve. You get what you negotiate.

So learning to be a great negotiator is paramount to your success and happiness.

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve laid out the in-depth plan I use for every negotiation:

  • My 6 Strategies for strong, ethical negotiating
  • The Principles of Persuasion I use to guide my negotiations
  • The Mistakes to Avoid while you’re negotiating

Related Post:  Do You Make These Mistakes When You Negotiate?
Related Post:  The Power of Persuasion: The Truth About Negotiation
Related Post:  Discover How Easily You Can Negotiate Anything

How to Instantly Improve Your Negotiations

The Principle of Affinity

Today, however, I’m going to lay out not one but three secret strategies. I use them when I feel that I need to put pressure on a negotiation to steer it in the direction I want it to go.

The first two secrets are sentences I use as a last resort to ‘force the person’s hand.’

What does that mean?

Sometimes, in a negotiation, you and your partner can get into a bit of a standoff if neither is willing to name a price or a term.

That standoff can be a bit awkward. It’s also where tensions start to rise and people start to feel taken advantage of.

If you go into a negotiation with affinity between the both of you, you don’t want to ruin it in a standoff.

The Principle of Affinity is an underrated social lubricant that can vastly change the outcome of any negotiation.

af-fin-i-ty (noun): a spontaneous or natural liking or sympathy for someone or something.

The most important word in that definition is…spontaneous. Affinity can happen instantly, anywhere.

So what creates affinity?

Common Ground: having things in common with the other person creates instant affinity.

Before you begin any negotiation it’s a good idea to find affinity with the other person. You’re going into a very intimate discussion with the other person. The least you could do is get to know her a little bit.

Take a moment to get to know your negotiating partner if you don’t already. It can take seconds to assess someone and find common ground.

Say, for instance, you’re looking to hire a gardener. You’ve got several appointments scheduled in a row on one day.

How do you create affinity in that kind of fluid situation, where everything is moving quickly?

Observe.

Observe the truck he or she drove up in. Observe where he or she puts his or her attention on your yard. Do you both like the same kinds of plants? Don’t know? Ask.

“What are your favorite plants?”

“Well, my favorite plant is actually a tree. I love Palo Verdes.”

The gardener takes out her phone and shows you a picture of a Palo Verde.

You exclaim, “It’s gorgeous! I might like one of those!”

Instant affinity.

Then you glide into a negotiation about her monthly price for gardening.

This is such a little, out-of-the-way example of creating affinity before a negotiation that you might and have missed this opportunity in your real life.

Stop missing these opportunities to create affinity with the very people that you negotiate with every day in every way.

It sounds so small, so subtle as to not make a difference to the outcome of a negotiation. But many times, it’s everything.

So slow down and watch, listen and find those points of affinity.

Get PREPARED and get the CONFIDENCE you NEED for a spontaneous interview ANYWHERE, ANYTIME … because you never know when one is going to happen.

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3 Little Secrets

Once you’ve established some affinity you can begin a negotiation. But what happens if you get stuck? What happens when an impasse wedges itself between the two of you with no obvious sign of passage?

That sucks.

However, take heed my friend! It is not the end, only a small detour on the road to bliss.

I have three get-out-of-jail-free cards to break any impasse.

These secret sentences activate the listener to really think about his bottom line. It also forces her to name a price or a term, depending on what we’re talking about.

Secret #1: “What’s the least you can live with?”

What happens if you’re in the middle of a negotiation but you’ve come to an end in the conversation? Neither of you wants to name your price, what then?

This question will help break that stalemate. It diverts the conversation into the finer points of negotiation. And it allows your partner to take a breath and think for a moment without giving specifics.

This will take you both off of the defensive. When your defenses are down you can begin again to explore terms. It’s sort of like walking the edge of a lake to understand the lake better without diving in.

Does that metaphor make sense?

You’re allowing yourselves to inch closer to terms you both can live with by asking a question you can be somewhat vague about. For instance, say you’re buying a pickup truck and the seller is asking $13,000.

You would like to offer a lower price but aren’t certain how low you can go. You don’t want to offend him with too low a counter. So you ask, “Well, what’s the least you can live with?” or even, “What’s the lowest you’ll go?”

This may garner a chuckle. And it will also provide you both some time for thoughtful consideration.

Alternative: “What’s the most you can live with?”

Conversely, if you’re discussing terms this question might also become useful if you’ve reached an impasse.

Say you’re working out the details of leasing a new car. You’d like more months so the monthly payment goes down a bit. This question may come in handy while you’re working out the terms.

Related Post:  Do You Make These Mistakes When You Negotiate?
Related Post:  The Power of Persuasion: The Truth About Negotiation
Related Post:  Discover How Easily You Can Negotiate Anything

Secret #2: “Is that the best you can do?”

I love this question. You don’t want to throw your partner off balance too much. But a little wake-up every now and then is useful.

This question wakes your partner up and gets her to thoughtfully consider the options.

You can also use this question as a preamble to a lower offer. For instance…

“Is that the best you can do? Would you consider $________”

Again, that will allow her a few moments of consideration of your offer. Just remember to shut up and allow the space and time for consideration.

Secret #3: “You can choose the terms if I can choose the price.”

This is my favorite one. This is another question that’s designed to throw people off just a little bit. It’s not a manipulation. It’s simply an unexpected way to break an impasse or break the ice.

Most people I’ve found are amenable to this agreement. It’s fair and it gives each partner their own domain in which to dominate; a fair and level playing field in which to negotiate.

 

The Wrap Up

Negotiating is fun! I’ve been a negotiator for pretty much my entire life. I think I came out of the womb negotiating with the doctor to quit slapping my a**.

That doesn’t mean I was always a good negotiator. I had to learn some incredibly difficult and vastly expensive lessons before I became a good negotiator.

I don’t want you to experience my same fate or go down my same path. Steal my wisdom. Using these sentences will allow you to feel more confident while you negotiate.

Practice. Use these questions with your spouse while you negotiate weekly chores. Use them on your roommates, your colleagues, your children.

Children are fantastic. You use these sentences on your kids one week, and the next week they’ll be using them on you, negotiating their way into more screen time. So watch out.

When you integrate these sentences and my other strategies into your daily negotiations you gain confidence. That confidence will increase your desire to negotiate bigger and bolder deals for your company.

And then your skills at negotiating will increase your profitability, your ability to manage uncertainty and your opportunities as an entrepreneur.

Learn to lean into negotiating with skill and confidence. When you do that you will increase your success.

Know where you can start using these new skills? In interviews about your business. Setting the terms of interviews as well as knowing what to say about your business can increase your visibility and enhance your business’s cache.

Click here to understand how to prepare for any kind of interview including a spontaneous one.

Are you a good negotiator?

What’s your “back-pocket” strategy for negotiating?

Join the Conversation>>

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