The Power of Listening in Negotiation

Negotiating is difficult. Negotiating in English is even more difficult. When you want to persuade someone to reach a mutual agreement (especially in English), you can feel stuck.

It’s easy to believe that talking is the best persuasion strategy. Often people think, if you keep presenting your point of view, people will listen and eventually do what you expect them to do.

However, people won’t always buy into your logic. In terms of different approaches to persuasion, the 2014 Global Negotiation Survey shows that the option “ask the other side for their opinion” received the highest rank. To change somebody’s point of view is to listen.

Listen.

If you want someone to be receptive to you, it is a helpful way to listen first. Listening doesn’t mean agreeing totally, not having your own position, and merely waiting for your turn to speak. Although it shows your respect towards them, you listen to understand their perspective to use it later for your and their benefit.

Ask, then listen again.

Dig deeper and listen to what is being said. Very attentively. What appeals to them? What are their concerns? You are not being defeated. In fact, Richard Mullender, a British trainer in negotiation, says that listening is a skill to identify, select, and interpret the magic words that one can use to reach a mutual agreement (Huthwaite International, 2018).

Speak.

The aim of listening and following up with a question is not to change their opinion but to understand their position that can be used to get your message across. When you let them speak first, you can capture their overall needs and intentions, and you will know better what topic to touch on and get your intended outcome.

Developing negotiating skills is a process. You can effectively reach a win-win outcome when you know the skills to apply under which situations. It is recommended that aspiring negotiators learn the appropriate negotiation strategies such as,

  • How should you open the negotiation?
  • Which phrases should you use to make an offer?
  • How should you bargain without appearing forceful?

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