The Negotiator Magazine

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Use the three levels of listening to get information:

  1. Selective: we hear things that we believe are important.
  2. Responsive: this lets the other party know that you are, indeed, paying attention. It involves verbal and physical feedback, nodding, or asking, "Tell me more about that."
  3. Playback: restating what you think you heard and asking for confirmation. It is also good to follow up with a confirming question. An example would be, "Have I gotten everything, or might there be something I missed?"

As you work through issues in the negotiation, playback can also be used as a "mini-close" making it more difficult for an issue to resurface later. "I missed that. When we talked earlier, we agreed on this. What did I miss? Do we need to talk about this more so I can better understand its importance to you?"

Effective questioning and listening can provide solutions to the problem. By getting the other party to talk, and listening to their responses, a positive message is sent. This greatly increases trust and keeps tension low. People will do business with you because you are perceived as:

Effectively seeking information through questioning and listening will help develop these perceptions.

Tip #4: Develop a plan before beginning to negotiate

When I ask in training sessions, I find that few people do any in-depth planning before negotiating. I am not referring to determining how much will be spent, how long to complete a project, or what their walk-away number might be. I am talking about detailed planning, which involves trying to determine what the other side may want, and why.

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April 2005