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6 Negotiation Techniques to Use in Your Day-to-Day Life

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Feb 19, 2020 • 4 min read

Strong negotiation skills, problem-solving tactics, and an understanding of trade-offs are great tools to have at your command as a working professional. Being a good negotiator will serve you well in your business career, whether you find yourself trying to gain the upper hand in a salary negotiation with a hiring manager or ironing out the details of a complicated corporate real estate deal. There are a variety of successful negotiation strategies, covering everything from body language to listening skills, that can help you leverage your bargaining power and work towards finding common ground with other negotiating parties.

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Chris Voss Teaches The Art of NegotiationChris Voss Teaches The Art of Negotiation

Former FBI lead hostage negotiator Chris Voss teaches you communication skills and strategies to help you get more of what you want every day.

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6 Negotiation Techniques to Use in Your Day-to-Day Life

Working from the first offer towards a deal that is advantageous to you is an art form that takes practice and commitment. Don’t panic if it takes some time for you to develop confidence in your own negotiation process and develop specific negotiating skills. The basic building blocks of effective negotiation are the same regardless of the subject of your negotiation. Once you master negotiation tactics, you can feel confident entering into any sort of business mediation or conflict resolution meeting and know that you have the skills you need to reach a favorable outcome. Achieving your goals in a negotiation requires the adoption of a positive, collaborative mindset, but it also requires command of a certain set of skills. These include:

  1. Tone of voice: Mastering the use of your voice can help you become a better negotiator by improving the delivery of your arguments and finding creative ways to communicate your point of view. In the negotiating room, there are three main tones of voice: Assertive voice is declarative and typically counterproductive. Playful or accommodating voice, is gently promotes collaboration and should be used about 80 percent of the time. Lastly what Chris Voss calls “late-night FM DJ” voice is straightforward with a soothing, downward lilt. It’s best employed when establishing points of negotiation that are immovable, and should be used around 10 to 20 percent of the time.
  2. Vocal inflection: Use an inquisitive, upward vocal inflection, as if you’re asking a question. This inflection should convey genuine curiosity and interest in the other person’s point of view, and should be your default inflection. Speak with a declarative, downward inflection, when you’re stating something you want to be received as fact. Your voice will inspire your counterpart to feel the same kinds of emotions that you are expressing by activating an empathetic response from their brain’s mirror neurons.
  3. Mirroring: The repetition of key words used by your negotiating partner is another essential negotiating tool. In most situations, you should identify one to three key terms for mirroring (but never use more than five). The technique can be especially effective when you’re repeating words that your counterpart has just spoken. Mirroring lets the other side know you’re paying attention to what they’re saying and treating their views with the close consideration they believe they deserve. Mirroring is a rapport-building technique with wide applicability. It works as well at cocktail parties as it does during hostage negotiations. When you combine it with inquisitive inflection, mirroring can be an effective means of quelling the often reflexive hostility of confrontational people.
  4. Labeling: Labeling is used to give voice to the other side’s feelings. Good labels take the form of: “It seems like...” “It looks like...” “You look like...” To label effectively, you must avoid all use of the first-person pronoun, as in, “What I’m hearing...” or “I think...” First-person phrases signal that you are your number one priority and everyone else in the room is an afterthought. At its core, labeling is designed to let the other side know that you understand their feelings, to help build relationships, and to gather information.
  5. Dynamic silence: Dynamic silence can magnify the impact of your mirrors and labels. By taking a beat after you mislabel, for example, you give the other side the opportunity to set you straight, potentially revealing more information than you could have gotten by asking direct questions.
  6. Calibrated questions: Calibrated questions are “how” and “what” questions structured for maximum effect. They are designed to change the power dynamic of the negotiation and force consideration of your position into the equation. In other words, they allow the other side to see things from your side of the table and allow everyone to keep their sense of autonomy intact.

These techniques paired with eye contact and active listening can help you navigate a contentious give-and-take and arrive at a negotiated agreement without doing damage to personal relationships. These negotiation tips can be applied to a variety of negotiation scenarios including, but not limited to, business negotiations. They are just as applicable to an employee bargaining for a higher salary and more perks as they are to a hostage negotiator in the midst of high-stakes crisis negotiations. Learn former FBI hostage negotiator Chris Voss’s negotiation tips here.

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