The ability to strategically negotiate with others drastically impacts the success of your training organization and business at large, both in closing individual deals and sustaining long-term business relationships. One of the most fundamental elements of a successful negotiation is understanding the client’s needs. Often, the easiest tactics are overlooked while negotiating. This includes relating to the other party, gauging emotions and/or choosing the right time and place to talk business.

Empathy is not often cited as a critical skill when it comes to business negotiations. However, successful negotiators who understand empathy, how it relates to negotiation and implements a strategy, can experience a significant difference in their negotiations. Remember: The goal of a negotiation is to compromise or come to an agreement between the two parties. Successful negotiators, indeed, listen intently to the other party so as to understand their side of the negotiation and what their wants and needs are. They spend more time listening than talking because they want to understand the difficulties others face, all of which helps to give those around them the feeling of being heard and recognized. They give their complete focus to the person and eliminate distractions on their laptop or phones. Listening can lead to more satisfying results for both parties.

Additionally, pay attention to body language. Non-verbal cues include tone of voice, posture, hand gestures and other hints. These hints can often give more information about emotions than what the other person is saying, and sometimes even contradict the spoken words to reveal true feelings. Once they are finished speaking, vocalize your understanding of their feelings to let them know you can relate to their wants and needs. Even if you disagree, try to remain as neutral as possible and continue to listen. Judging or attacking ideas can lead to the other person shutting down and delaying resolution. Negotiations involve some type of relationship building and the process of listening and learning about the other party’s views. People want to know they are being heard.

Without empathy in the negotiation process, it can be easy to come to an impasse. However, when empathy is utilized, the opposing side feels understood and their feelings are heard.  People underestimate the power of emotions in negotiations. In my recent book “Persuade,” we discuss “The Linda Problem” and how people are more likely to believe what sounds right to them than what is actually true, even if illogical. It is one of the many pieces of evidence that individuals make decisions with emotions but try to think rationally.

However, demonstrating logic is important even though most people rely on their emotions to make decisions. This is because demonstrating the logic behind the decision helps people feel confident in the decision. It allows them to justify it. Once you’ve built rapport, engaged proper emotions, it is time to demonstrate the logic and why your proposed decision or solution is the right choice. To do this, you need to demonstrate that the decision or solution you present is logical (makes sense) and rational (agreeable with reason and all available knowledge).

Last but not least, the medium through which your story or message is communicated is a major factor to consider during a negotiation. In some cases, the medium can make or break a message. For instance, think about how many times you’ve received a text or email and not been sure about the tone or intention of the message? Had you heard it on a call, you might have had more context. If you heard it on a video call, you would have had even more. Ask yourself, “Is this an efficient or effective way to communicate my message?”

One of the biggest ways to establish trust in a negotiation is to provide positive body language cues, which are often lost in translation over virtual meetings. To observe someone’s body language, you need to choose a rich, interactive medium that allows for it. If it is a virtual meeting, your options are limited to video conferencing platforms such as FaceTime or Zoom.

Ensuring your team understands empathy, how emotions come into play and the importance of using the correct medium to persuade will lead to better negotiations, better terms that provide maximum value, and a higher return for your training organization. During your next negotiation, consider these basic yet effective persuasion tips.

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