Negotiation Tip: In every negotiation, believability is a silent participant at the table. Being believable may show up in the perception the other negotiator has of your ability to deliver the promised outcome. Being believable may also manifest itself in the appearance of how you position and promote your offers and counteroffers.
In any case, if you, your offer, or your ability to perform properly is called into question during the negotiation, you’ll have challenges throughout the negotiation process. Thus, being believable is something that needs to be addressed and attended to in your negotiations.
The following are a few thoughts to consider when it comes to the perception of believability and the influence it has on the outcome of your negotiations.
• The Other Negotiator’s Paradigm:
o Take the background of the other negotiator into serious consideration and the negotiation experiences she’s encountered. Where believability is concerned, her reference will stem from the encounters she’s had in the past, which will influence her perspective of your believability. She’ll associate you and your mannerisms, gestures, and tonality of speech to outcomes she’s had in the past. You may recall the cliché, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.” Even if you don’t intend to, if she perceives you to be a duck, that’s what you’ll be, a duck. So, be careful to project the image you want her to perceive, based on her belief system.
• Your Image and Persona:
o What does the other negotiator know about you, and what do you want her to know? Savvy business people and politicians ‘spin’ their public image to present themselves in the light they want to cast. I suggest you do no less prior to and during your negotiation. Ask yourself, do I match the persona of someone that is believable as perceived by the person with whom I’m negotiating? If you look like a homeless person, it’s very unlikely that you’ll convince the other negotiator to trust that you’ll deliver on a million dollar promise. In essence, project the persona and image that’s aligned with what the other negotiator perceives to be the type of person that’s believable and trustworthy for what you’re negotiating.
• Consistency an Trust:
o There’s nothing that will dispel believability and trust quicker than someone that constantly changes their opinion and/or position. Thus, be careful of the position you adopt during the negotiation and be contemplative when altering it. Also, align what you say with gestures and tone of speech that reinforce your message; you’ll send subliminal signals that indicate you can be trusted and thus believable in the process. As an example, if you propose and offer that should excite the other negotiator and deliver it in a flat, dull, and monotone voice, with no excitement, you won’t excite her. You’ll probably send red flags and make her wonder, what’s missing. You will put her in a state of puzzlement, causing her to surmise, ‘something doesn’t feel or seem right.’ I’d better be cautious.
When negotiating, the other negotiator doesn’t care how believable you think you are, if she doesn’t think you are believable. If you’re perceived to be unbelievable, that’s her perspective and she’ll negotiate with you accordingly. By following the guidelines above your believability will be enhanced … and everything will be right with the world.
Remember, you’re always negotiating!