“In negotiation, psychology is what a negotiator uses to make an opponent perceive what they think.” -Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert (Click to Tweet)
“Negotiation Psychology This Is Absolutely
The Best Way To Win More Faster”
People don’t realize they’re always negotiating.
In negotiation, psychology plays a significant role in the negotiation flow and its outcome. And yet, when it comes to using negotiation psychology, most negotiators lend little attention to how they will utilize psychology during their talks. The following are thoughts you can use to assemble psychological components for your future negotiations.
1. Identify Negotiator’s Needs
Some negotiators enter a negotiation without considering what their counterpart seeks from the talks. That negotiator places themselves at a disadvantage. Why? Because if you do not know what your counterpart wants, you will not know what to offer to get them to give you what you want.
So, if you have not assessed the other negotiator’s needs before the negotiation, how might you accomplish that during your talks?
- You can ask, ‘what outcome do they seek from the negotiation?’
- You may also ask, ‘what outcome would make this a win-win for us?’ You would pose this question to a negotiator with a win-win mindset versus one with a win-lose perspective (i.e., the only way they win is if you lose).
- To be more subtle, ask, ‘what would you like to occur today?’
Then, as the negotiation progresses, see how far that negotiator will go to achieve their stated outcome. Compare that to what they are willing to concede to get it. You will receive valuable feedback that will give you a sense of the psychological mindset of your opposition.
With a win-lose negotiator, initially, they may ask for unreasonable concessions to see how you respond. So, be careful to confirm what the other negotiator states as necessary versus what you see in their actions. Someone’s actions will always give you more insight into the psychology of why they do what they do than their words.
2. Read Body Language To Read Someone’s Mind
Body language plays an integral role during negotiations. It can help uncover hidden clues about what lurks in the mind of your opposition that they do not state. Thus, the better you can interpret someone’s body language, the greater insight you will have into their thoughts. When assessing your negotiation counterpart’s body gestures, the following are a few thoughts to consider.
- First, always establish the baseline of the other negotiator’s body language to determine how they use it in a ‘normal’ situation (whatever normal is for them). Then, compare their normal body language usage to the changes emitted when that negotiator is stressed, calm, contemplative, or reflective.
For example, if a negotiator is pleasant throughout the negotiation and gestures with their hands up and open, take note when their hands turn down and they begin pulling gestures towards themselves. Such gestures may denote a shift in that person’s mind. Depending on how that might influence the negotiation, take appropriate action to align that person’s mind with your thoughts.
- Arms crossed means a person is not open or receptive to an offer, right? That can be true or false, depending on where you are in the negotiation proceedings.
Some negotiators are savvy; they may display this gesture to feign displeasure. They may do so to either set you up for forthcoming concession requests or alter the negotiation flow. Be mindful when you observe this maneuver.
To draw out its intent, alter the topic of discussion to one favorable to your opponent. Then, observe what becomes of their crossed arms. If they remain crossed, ignore the gesture until the other negotiator expresses concerns via their words.
When a negotiator emits body language gestures, they do so based on what triggered the actions. That can be what was said most recently – but it can also be the culmination of an accumulation of exchanges you have witnessed.
If you sense the most recent gestures may lead to an uncomfortable place in the negotiation, ask the opposition what they are thinking. If you believe the motion bears no importance in the course of the talks, ignore it.
The point is to be aware of the silent signals you witness throughout the negotiation from someone’s body language. Doing so will give you an advantage in your talks.
3. Use Micro Expressions To Identify Real Thoughts And Emotions
Micro expressions are unfiltered mental displays of emotion that occur before someone’s mind attempts to control the displayed action. From a psychological perspective, the action is not contrived – it is real.
Micro expressions last about one-quarter of a second. Seven micro expressions are generic to everyone on the planet. They are fear, anger, disgust, surprise, contempt, happiness, and sadness.
I’ll use ‘disgust’ as an example of how you might use a micro expression to validate a negotiator’s internal feelings and gain psychological insight into their thoughts.
When someone displays disgust, the exhibitor will appear to have their upper lip raised towards their nose as though something doesn’t smell right. Through that action, a negotiator is telling you your offer is not appealing.
Take note; a negotiator may emit the same disgust sign when making an offer if they do not think you will accept it or know it is not a good offer. In such situations, they may be testing you to see how you will react to their request.
During negotiation, psychology has a profound impact on how the negotiation flows. Thus, an intelligent negotiator will consider using many psychological strategies to alter the other negotiator’s mind. To that end, the better you use the above suggestions, the greater your negotiation outcomes will be. And everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!
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