Role of convincing in negotiation:

By: Prapanna Lahiri

NEGOTIATING is the process of holding discussions with a view to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. CONVINCING is the art of persuading someone to take appropriate action. Persuasion is a specialised skill. It is one essential element of all human interactions, from politics to marketing to everyday dealings with friends, family and colleagues. Negotiation involves the following:

  1. Listening to the needs of the other party.
  2. Arriving at an agreement acceptable to both sides.
  3. Knowing when to compromise i.e. making concessions for clinching the agreement.
  4. Establishing trust.
  5. Arriving at a win-win situation for both.

Convincing involves:

  1. Developing a line of reasoned argument.
  2. Using positive language to back up points with logic.
  3. Highlighting the positive aspects of the arguments put forth.
  4. Getting the points across in a calm yet assertive manner.
  5. Challenging the contrary views expressed by others with utmost tact.
  6. Trying to find common ground by skilfully handling objections to the arguments from the other side.

As already stated above, convincing needs persuading skills the following are the key illustrations to explain the process of exercising that skill:

    1. Focussing on the needs of the other party: To earn the trust and respect of the other party the first step would be to carefully listen to their needs to make them perceive that their interests and expectations are of paramount importance in the negotiation process.
    2. Avoiding tentative or hesitant language: Expressions like “you know,” “I mean,” etc. do not make one’s arguments sound convincing enough.
    3. Using positive rather than negative language:  Even when the other persons do not sound cogent in their points of view they should not be trivialised. It is better to appreciate them as alternative viewpoints while putting across one’s own proposals. This makes a negotiation positive.
    4. Shaking the existing belief: In the art of convincing others it is important to sound assertive and confident using a strong and composed tone backed by equally assured gestures and body language, aiming to make them start doubting their existing beliefs. Once there are signs of these doubts beginning to surface, the presentation should work further to shake off their beliefs completely.
    5. Undermining their Knowledge Base: It is essential for the negotiator to do some good homework, making available some well documented solid facts. With the help of such concise and focused evidence and examples, the negotiator should plant in the other person’s subconscious mind the belief that the former has authority on the subject and should be listened to. The endeavour should be to subtly undermine the other persons’ knowledge-base and bring them around to the negotiator’s point of view.
    6. Providing proofs to convince the Sceptic: Even sceptics can be convinced to believe in a different point of view with several lines of credible evidence, providing sound and focussed logic in support of a contrarian idea.
    7. Programming their Subconscious Mind: Sometimes, one needs to make several repetitions of one’s arguments to shake and existing belief of the other person. A belief created originally in the subconscious mind of a person is reinforced by repetitions. So it will require many more repetitions of the other idea often enough, so that the person actually starts believing in it. This will work provided the conscious mind is not in control and the person, trying to convince, is trusted by the listener as a source of a new idea.
    8. Fully believing and being convinced about one’s own Ideas and arguments: Unless one strongly believes in an idea it will not show in self-consciousness and body language of the person, good enough to convince others to believe in it, as well. The more one firmly believes in an idea the more convincing and confident the arguments will sound.
    9. Showcasing social acceptance:  People are naturally inclined to go with the crowd and to follow the current popular view. In the process of convincing someone, it is worthwhile to point out how many other people have already agreed to the point of view, now sought to be propounded, and have, accordingly, made their commitments to the new idea.
  • Being a likeable personality: It is common sense that people prefer to agree with arguments or requests of someone they like, admire and trust. Communications from a genuinely affable personality, always eager to help and care, are more likely to be listened to. Such persons are always able to convince better.   

  1. Agreeing with them first and then flipping: One great way to dismiss the other person’s thoughts is to first agree with them and then tactfully overturn them suggesting that the other opinion presented could be even better and more practicable.
  2. Trying to enter their world; Imitating is the greatest form of flattery for many. If someone speaks clearly, slowly and precisely, the negotiator should also try to do something similar in a subtle manner. This is often referred to as mirroring. People will be more comfortable and at ease with those who mirror or emulate them in some way.
  3. Establishing one’s superior authority: People tend listen and agree with those who have authority and can clearly demonstrate it. While trying to convince others it is always more effective citing one’s own previous experience, expertise and knowledge about supporting information and statistics, available on the subject.

Everyone can talk. But more often than not, not all such talk appears convincing. Rhetorical skills are indeed important in all types of dialogues. Fulfilment of a dialogue lies in clinching an agreement between the participants. When it comes to convincing a customer or a client and persuading a colleague or a friend, one needs to bring into command all such attributes like intelligence, knowledge, confidence, wit, tact, humour, modesty, experience or a combination of all these. Persuasion is an art to change the minds of those opposed your line of thinking with a view to finally make them listen to you, cooperate with you and finally agree with you.

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