“Insider Advice On How To Use ‘How’ To Win More Negotiations” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“No one knows more the value of advice than the person that benefits from it.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (click to Tweet)

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“Insider Advice On How To Use

‘How’ To Win More Negotiations”

People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.

There’s a stealthy ploy that great negotiators use in negotiations to get inside of their counterpart’s head. It can put the other negotiator at ease or put him on edge. How do they do that, you may ask? It’s by using the word ‘how’ during their discussion. Its use is so alluring that most people engaged in a negotiation don’t realize the spell that has captured them until it’s too late to adjust to it.

So, the question is, why is ‘how’ so powerful in a negotiation? What gives it power? And how might you use it to win more negotiations? The following answers those questions while outlining how and when to use ‘how.’

Why Using How Is Powerful

Using ‘how’ can give the impression of control in the negotiation to either negotiator. The perception of who has control depends on the tone in which a negotiator uses it. For example, suppose one negotiator asked the other how he accomplished something.

In that case, the questioned negotiator can give as much or as little information as he chooses. The determining factor to the amount of information disclosed may depend on whether the posing negotiator asked the question in a curious, courteous, demeaning, or demanding manner. So, one must always be mindful of how one projects a question when using this negotiation tool. Every negotiator seeks to control the negotiation – the use of ‘how’ can be the key that unlocks the control he desires.

How To Use How

Now you’ve gained insight into the value of using ‘how.’ The following are ways you can advantage your negotiation position by using it.

How Did You Come Up With That?

Asking a question of this nature during the negotiation can gain information about the components of an offer. If you have that insight, you can negotiate the parts of that offer versus its totality. Consider the tone and timing of when you ask this question. Either can add to or take away from the amount of information you receive. As is the case with most of the tools in one’s negotiation toolbox, the more skillfully you use it, the more potent its use will become. 

How Is That Possible?

When asked with a sense of amazement, this question, timed right, can project a heightened perspective of respect for the other negotiator’s ability. It can give the impression that your skill level is subservient to hers. That can place her in a more empathetic mindset to assist you.

To cast that persona, you might lean in as though you were taking in knowledge from an oracle. Widened eyes will heighten the effect. Just be mindful of projecting a ‘drinking from the fountain of wisdom’ demeanor, and you’ll enhance your persona.

How Do You Know That?

This is another ‘how’ question that you can use to gain more information about what you’re discussing. It’s also a way to suggest that your opponent may have information that she’s not supposed to possess. To cast that projection, you may lean forward, and in a low tone, ask how you know that? That effect can heighten the value of what’s in question.

You can use this form of a query to challenge the other negotiator’s assertion about a stated fact she’s made. One can say that about most ‘how’ questions. But this one may cause the other negotiator to become defensive. So, be hypersensitive to how you pose this ‘how’ question based on your intent and the reason you’re using it.

How Much Better Can You Do?

When you ask this ‘how’ question, you imply that the other negotiator can improve the offer. That makes this question fall into the assumptive question category. A question of this nature bypasses the thought of whether one can do better. Thus, it eliminates the need for the discussion leading from asking if the other negotiator can do better. That, in turn, takes you deeper into the negotiation process and places you a step closer to a negotiation outcome. 

How Can I Do That?

When you ask someone how to do something, you get their perspective about how you might achieve a request or goal. Thus, the value of the question is multipurpose. You get the opposition’s view while extending the perception that you’re seeking that negotiator’s advice. And in reality, you do want their perspective. Because, in receiving it, you’ll have more significant knowledge of their views and opinions about the items you’re negotiating. With that insight, you can shift your offers to be more or less appealing, based on your goals for using this tool.    

How Does That Work?

Once again, this ‘how’ question gets into the psychology of asking for assistance. And like some of the other ‘how’ questions, it also places your negotiation partner in a loftier mindset of someone possessing control.

To capitalize on using this type of question, tie your request to how that individual states something should occur. By doing so, you’ll be following their lead regarding what they suggest. And that will place them in a challenging position to become disagreeable.


Many negotiators have sought the answer to ‘how’ in a negotiation. How can I reach my goals in the talks? How might the other negotiator react if I make this or that offer and counteroffer?

Great negotiators have always understood the power of using ‘how’ in their negotiations. Now, you have that insight. Like great negotiators, if you use this tool wisely, your negotiation outcomes will become enhanced. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

Listen to Greg’s podcast at https://c-suitenetwork.com/radio/shows/greg-williams-the-master-negotiator-and-body-language-expert-podcast/

After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

To receive Greg’s free “Negotiation Tip of the Week” and the “Negotiation Insight,” click here https://themasternegotiator.com/greg-williams/

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