Negotiating With Skill/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on October 28, 2013


The current issue of Inc. contains a short interview with TV host, George Stephanopoulos. The TV anchor of “Good Morning America” gives a number of tips for a successful interview, among which are the following:

-Prepare extensively

-Ask “Why”

-Watch For Facial Cues

The above three tips are helpful for many forms of human interaction. They are particularly relevant to negotiation situations. A thorough preparation for a negotiation would include research on the applicable law, discussions (or familiarity) with those who are expert in the areas that will be covered, and planning what you will say and how you will respond to the other party. In addition to preparing for what you will say, know what you will not say. Do not let emotions take e precedence over sober and disciplined discussion. There is no substitute for proper and dedicated preparation. 

Secondly, learn to ask “Why”. When a party asks for something. ask them why it is important to them. You always learn more by listening than by talking. The radio psychologist Dr. Joy Browne has reduced this stance to a little rhyme: “Be curious not furious”. Asking “why” will hardly end a conversation. It may give all parties to see what the underlying issues are all about.

Finally, look at “body language”. Body language tells us more than the words themselves. Look out for genuine smiles, honest sighs, and the looks that invite conversation as well as foreclose it. Mr. Stephanopoulus describes the moment when “You can see it more than hear it.”

It is no surprise that the tips that make for a good interview likewise make for a positive negotiation. There is a universality in interpersonal activities that makes the above suggestions quite worthy of consideration.