The Negotiator Magazine

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Being an effective communicator begins with being an outstanding listener…

Tip #3: The most powerful negotiating skill is listening

You learn the interests of the other party through listening. Some styles are better at this than others, but the fact is that we are typically not good listeners. Most listen to reply, not to understand.

To illustrate this, refer to the study that Dr. Albert Mehrabian, of UCLA, did on the ways we communicate:

Even good listeners are asking questions and attempting to listen to the words. But words only comprise 7% of how we communicate. Communication is 93% non-verbal. It is no wonder that so much gets lost between the speaker's lips and our ears. Non-verbal communication is also important in determining the speaker's style.

Effective questioning is the first step toward learning the interests of the other party. In order to be effective at asking questions, three things must take place:

  1. Know where your questions are going. Most people find randomly asked questions to be unnerving and it makes them distrust you.
  2. Ask the other party if it is all right with them if you ask questions.
  3. Then tell them what information you are seeking.

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April 2005