We negotiate every day. There are negotiations in sales, customer service, interviewing for a position, and relationships between vendors and suppliers. The most powerful tool in negotiations is not what we say, it is what we hear. Make a checklist of these five items and apply it to your next negotiations.

Active Listening

If in person, use body language to demonstrate your attentiveness. Make eye contact, respond to to statements with visible recognition, and do not allow yourself to be distracted by other activities or people. In not in person, be direct in questions and patient when receiving responses. Use "Active Listening Techniques" to get the most out of the communication. Listen for the Values implied as well as the ones stated.

Ask Questions

Even when you think that you may know the answers, prompt the other person to explain the situation or opportunity from their perspective. Listen closely to the perspectives and emotions that are implied, as well as the ones that are stated.

What's In It For Me?

Be honest and direct in sharing your objectives, and encourage the same in return. Understand the priority your own goals and communicate them clearly and concisely. Take time to discuss and document the goals, obstacles, opportunities and commitments of the other person. Let them communicate these needs and capabilities "in their own words". Find common goals and commitments.

Be a Partner, not a Judge

Focus on the facts and control emotions. If there are emotions, understand the facts and circumstances that contributed to creating the emotional response.

Write it down

Take notes during the conversation or document the highlights when the communication if done. Share the document, confirm consensus, and identify the next critical steps if continuing the negotiation, the sale, the issue resolution, or the general commitments. Conversations lead to negotiations, and these result in mutual commitments. Document the commitment to avoid confusion that can come from difference of opinion or perspective.


Words of Wisdom

"Others can stop you temporarily - you are the only one who can do it permanently."
- Zig Ziglar, founder and CEO, Ziglar Training Systems, author of "See You at the Top"

"Companies are no longer setting the agenda for what customers want. They're finding out where the agenda is being set and enhancing it. The customers decide what's important. Your job is to listen and respond."
- Awram Miler, technology consultant

"Nobody wants to buy what you sell. What they want are the business results they can achieve by utilizing what you sell to pursue their own goals and objectives."
- Bill Stinnett, "Think Like Your Customer"


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John Mehrmann is a freelance writer and President of Executive Blueprints Inc., an organization devoted to improving business practices and developing human capital. [https://www.ExecutiveBlueprints.com] provides resource materials for trainers, sample Case Studies, educational articles and references to local affiliates for consulting and executive coaching.

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