Sometimes, when we negotiate, we give up too soon. That’s the reason you have to know when “no” really means “no”, compared to “no” meaning “maybe”. How then can we recognize when “no” is a permanent position. The answer is you can’t, unless you can interpret hidden clues in nonverbal communications.
Not too long ago, I was in an open-air environment (Flea Market) where merchants were not only expected to discount their goods, but they did so as a part of their strategy for selling those goods. I approached one merchant and asked for the price of an item in which I had an interest. He quoted a price, to which I asked, ‘can you do better than that?’ He looked at me and stated the item was top quality and sold for much more than he was asking. I acknowledged his position and asked, ‘can you offer a slight discount?’ With that, he stated very emphatically, with a down turn of his lips, as he walked away from me, no! His body language and words were definitely synchronized. So, I walked away. A few minutes later, I went back to him and asked if I bought several of the items might he discount the price. Once again, with the same level of malevolence and body synchronization, he stated, no! Once more, I started to walk away, but this time, I looked at him, smiled and said, have a good day. As I walked away I could tell by the awkward expression of his body language, I had stuck a positive accord. Later in the day, I went back to the same merchant. As I approached, with a smile on my face, he smiled and said, ‘you don’t give up easily my friend.’ It was at that moment, I knew I had turned his “no” to a yes. I went on to negotiate for the items I wanted, at a discounted price, and he said, ‘if I had known you were going to be so persistent, I would have dropped the price earlier in the day.’
Nonverbal communications, also called body language, emits subliminally transmitted signals that the astute negotiator can sense. She’s attuned to those nonverbal signals, because she’s looking for them.
In order to raise your awareness of events occurring around you, when you negotiate, you need to intentionally adjust your perception to gestures and omitted words that are cast by your body language and that of the person with whom you’re negotiating. In addition, you need to understand what your body language is projecting as it relates to what’s on your mind and that of the other person.
As I travel around the US and other countries, the one thing I tell all audiences is the fact that the body does not lie. The words we use to represent our thoughts may be misleading, in which case our bodies will compensate for such actions by trying to prevent the words from passing through our lips. In so doing, body language gives insights into the thoughts we possess by disclosing some type of action. If you can accurately interpret the body language of the other negotiator, you get additional insights into his mind.
When you negotiate, interpreting and projecting body language is all about unconscious communications, yours and those with whom you’re negotiating. Once you acquire the skill of being able to accurately interpret the body language of others, and your own, you’ll notice an increase in the number of positive experiences you have when you negotiate … and everything will be right with the world.
The Negotiation Lessons are …
· When you negotiate, don’t be persistent for persistence sake, do so to improve your negotiation position. As you negotiate for that which you seek from the negotiation, always think of ways to increase the value of your offerings. Increase your perceived value by seeking input from the body language signals sent from the other negotiator and shape your additional offerings based on the signals the other person’s body language emits.
· When you explore other avenues to achieve your negotiation goals, add new dimensions to your efforts. The new dimensions do not have to be enormous; change your approach enough to have them perceived as additional or different twists to the benefits of your offerings.
· As an exercise, the next time you’re in a public place, observe the body language of those around you. Try to determine what is on the mind of those you observe by the nonverbal signals they transmit. To the degree you can validate your perception of those signals, you’ll begin to raise your awareness level of how people communicate nonverbally.