When you operate in the world of high-stakes negotiations, it’s only a matter of time before your counterpart pushes back. If your goal is to make a deal, you must figure out how to overcome objections and keep the conversation moving.
The first thing to remember is that remaining curious and open-minded always helps figure out why your counterpart is objecting to your terms. Once you’ve determined where the objections are coming from, you can defuse them using this approach:
1. Separate the people from the issue
All negotiators are people first, and the most important skill in negotiations is to openly examine each side’s viewpoints and refrain from placing blame. In Getting to Yes, Roger Fisher and William Ury, the world’s best-known experts on negotiation and mediation, admit that during a heated debate, we tend to forget about our counterparts’ unique backgrounds, opinions and values. All this contributes to what they say, so trying to put yourself in your counterparts’ shoes and exploring each side’s viewpoints will help defuse the situation.
2. Focus on interests – not positions
When negotiating, it’s common to begin by stating our positions, but this can lead to an impasse if we take a firm stance. To reach an agreement, it’s important to ask questions that draw out the underlying interests of our counterpart, such as “Why is this important to you?” It’s crucial to identify both parties’ interests and discuss them with an open mind.
By identifying the motivating interests of the other party and sharing our own, we can explore trade-offs and increase the likelihood of reaching an agreement.
3. Controlling emotions
Providing negotiators with the chance to express and discuss any intense emotions associated with the negotiation process will benefit both parties. This helps alleviate the weight of strong emotions, making negotiators more open to dialogue and better equipped to work on resolving the issue. Knowing that they will have an opportunity to express their standpoint, you will more likely listen attentively when your counterpart shares theirs.
Expressing appreciation is another crucial skill in negotiations. It’s important to acknowledge the merit of the other party and communicate understanding through words and actions to break through any dead end. Appreciation is especially important as nobody likes to feel undervalued, so all negotiators should make an effort to understand the other’s perspective and express appreciation accordingly.
5. Frame your message positively
Using positive communication methods is a more effective approach to reaching an agreement than using blame and criticism. Positive communication fosters collaboration, mutual respect, and trust, whereas blame and criticism can create defensiveness, hostility, and mistrust.
By approaching conversations with an open mind and a focus on positive communication techniques, we can find common ground, and negotiate a resolution that satisfies both parties.
6. Refuse to react on the spot
To escape the common negotiation trap of pushing hard and pushing back, Fisher, Ury and Patton introduce a skill they call “negotiation jujitsu“. This entails avoiding unnecessary escalation by remaining calm and refusing to react immediately. When the action and reaction cycle is busted you can focus on channelling your energy into more productive negotiation strategies, such as those described here.
7. Always end on a good note
Chris Voss, the world’s top negotiator and bestselling author of “Never Split the Difference,” suggests that being understood and accepted is a universal desire among people. Additionally, we all share two fundamental urges – the need to feel safe and secure, and the need to feel in control.
However, keep in mind that nobody wins every single negotiation. If you find yourself at a dead end, make sure you don’t leave the negotiation with negative feelings. In the end, you never know when you might do business with your counterpart again. People are more likely to do business with people they like, so let them know that you look forward to working with them in the future!
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The ability to negotiate with clarity and confidence is one of the most vital aspects of business growth and success in the long run. Without strong negotiation and objection-handling skills, you risk missing out on opportunities at every turn.
NxtGEN Executive Presence helps companies to establish and develop world-class negotiation skills that win deals.
We offer a wide range of corporate communication skills training programmes, so if you need to improve your negotiation skills it’s time to get in touch today and learn how to increase your influence and win more deals.