“A well-placed question can put you on the road to success. A well-placed question posed at the appropriate time can make success your servant.” – Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert
What thought do you give to the questions you’ll ask during a negotiation? Do you consider how you’ll deliver the questions and the impact that will have on how the question is perceived? Good questions, posed at the appropriate time in a negotiation, can be the teller that determines if a negotiation will be successful or a dud.
You can definitely win more negotiations by posing the following informational gathering and insightful questions.
Why would I do that? (The response gives you insight into the other negotiator’s thoughts as to why the point/deal offering should be perceived as beneficial to you. You can use the point against him by asking if he’d accept it. If there’s equity in it, that will also give you insight into where he is mentally and physically (i.e. starting to possibly tire of the negotiation or revving up).
What would you ask to get more information? (Gather insight, and possibly new ideas, about what else can be done to overcome an impasse and/or advance the negotiation)
How can we make this a win/win outcome? (This gives you insight per what he perceives to be a winning outcome for both of you and allows you to glimpse the direction he’d like to see the negotiation take.)
What part of the story/offer needs to be clearer? (Seeking his specific perspective and understanding of what’s been discussed that my need clarification)
Where does your keen interest lie? (This question can be used when you’re being questioned and want to take control of the negotiation – the person asking the questions is the person in control of the negotiation.)
What deal would you want me to offer you that I would accept? (This is a very powerful question because it calls into play the sense of fairness. The response will also give you a sense of how fair the other negotiator is, or is willing to appear.)
To add power to the delivery of your question(s), display the appropriate effect to make it more impactful (i.e. wincing, speaking faster/slower, learning forward/backward, etc.) Such nonverbal cues will add more meaning to your words. Also, when posing such questions, if the opposing negotiator is slow to respond, wait! That could mean he’s going deeper into thought mode. If you sense he’s having an ‘aha moment’, dig deeper. Ask him what thoughts came from your question, or what thought(s) he just had. Sensing such nonverbal gestures is where reading body language enhances your negotiation efforts. The point is, when an ‘aha moment’ occurs take note of the body language emitted at that time. As additional insight, leaning away can imply moving away from the question to give it deeper thought, while leaning forward can give insight that he’s ready to address the question head-on. In any case, note what the body language was prior to the question (i.e. relaxed, stern, contemplating, etc.), and what became of it after his response.
While some questions can be used to obfuscate the opposing negotiator, be careful when doing so. There are times when the appearance of your superiority is appropriate and other times when such will appear to be ‘speaking down to someone’. Know the difference, based on the circumstances at that time, when it’s appropriate to use questions that position you in one stance versus another. The point is, make sure such position serves you … and everything will be right with the world.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them. You can reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com
Remember, you’re always negotiating!