Don’t Underestimate Your Position

One of the most common mistakes in a negotiation is underestimating your position. Giving away power. The best way to avoid underestimating your position is preparation. Gather as much information as you can about your counterpart. Sit with someone in a mock negotiation.   Take the position of your counterpart. Understand the constraints, wants, needs, must have points from the position of your counterpart. Bridge of Spies photo

A recent Tom Hanks movie “Bridge of Spies” gives a perfect demonstration of the benefit of  understanding your counterpart’s position. Right up to the last minute exchange of spies  – Mr Donovan [Tom Hanks] holds strong to his position. He delays the exchange. Clearly he understood the constraints, wants and must have position of his counter part. This movie also gives a perfect demonstration of the power of silence.

It’s a good movie. A reminder “don’t underestimate your position”.


He who speaks first loses

Linda Byars recently posted this article in her newsletter.  A great recap on using the power of silence as a negotiation tactic.

“Some people use a “he who speaks first loses” philosophy as a negotiation tactic. They hope silence will make the other party feel uncomfortable and continue talking, possibly revealing unfavorable information. The tactic can work. However, once people discover you are waiting for them to slip up, they become guarded and stop all communications.

Instead, use this more positive approach to silence in your negotiation:

power of silence

• Ask open-ended questions instead of making statements. By asking a question you require the other person to formulate an answer and respond to you.  Ask questions to have others clarify their position. Then, listen patiently without helping them finish their sentences. Probe with more questions to separate issues from emotions.
• Practice. Try this today. The next time you have a lull in the conversation with a friend, try to remain silent. Allow him/her to think or take a pause for a moment. Practicing silence is difficult! Once you are comfortable with quiet, you start listening for words which aren’t spoken.
• Know what you want and what you think the other person might want. Before going into a negotiation, be clear on what a “win” is for you. Once you’ve achieved your objective – BE QUIET!  A natural response after a successful negotiation is to let off steam and/or create small talk. Don’t do it. Instead, politely part company, leave the room, or end the phone conversation.

A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues and strategic communication, Linda Byars Swindling, JD, CSP is an author, a “recovering” employment attorney, and a Certified Speaking Professional. To book Linda to speak at your event contact Zan Jones by email or phone at (214) 536-6666.”

Gender Pay Gap

Do you find it challenging to stay current on the news? Gender pay gap for example. Isn’t that old news?

Nope. The conversation is growing.

Former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao responds in the Hollywood Reporter to critics of the no-negotiation salary policy she instituted in an attempt to close the pay gap (based on the premise that women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay). While some said the policy would stop women from gaining negotiating experience, Pao maintains that it was a worthwhile tradeoff for removing the risk of unfair pay.

The newsletter by  Kristen Bellstrom “Fortune The Broad Sheet” comes highly recommended as quick read on key topics. A panel of executive business women pointed to The Broad Sheet when asked how they stay in touch with current events.

How do you stay current on the news?

Ego – does it impact your negotiations?

Splash Stars Ego photo-1444703686981-a3abbc4d4fe3One big mistake professionals often make assuming the negotiation process is a rational and logical one. You will find negotiating often turns into an emotional game. People make decisions because  of ego, fear, greed, or even a need to please.

how do you take ego out of the equation? Start by avoiding “I” Statements. Instead of starting with “I want this and I want that” talk instead about how ‘we need to reach a solution,’ it’s a very different approach. It doesn’t gratify your ego requirements, but it reaches a much better deal.

Patrick J Cleary points out in his book Negotiation Handbook that those who are comfortable leaving their ego baggage at the door will ultimately prevail. Why? Because they can see through the haze of ego to the merits of the deal. The best negotiators focus their interest in getting a deal, and they do.

Beware of Blame

It’s not my fault. She just wouldn’t budge. She had more power. It’s easy to cast blame or give away your leverage to your counterpart. Studies show that negativity is more common in less skilled negotiators.  Compared to skilled negotiators, average negotiators cast blame three times as much, consider half the creative options, look for common ground less, share less information, and make more gratuitous comments that irritate the other side.


What does it take to be a good negotiator? Focus on other people, identify what they need so you can meet their needs in exchange for what you need. Bottom line  – more negativity, less negotiation success.

Negotiation Obstacles

One of the biggest obstacles in any negotiation is a “failure to plan”. You can be your own worst enemy. If you become caught up in your goals, your constraints, your needs you will fail to adequately prepare for the negotiation. When you focus on yourself you are not thinking about the goals, constraints and needs of your counterpart. You may find yourself disappointed with the outcome of your negotiation if you haven’t carefully considered the negotiation from your counterparts point of view. Negotiation is an interactive process. The best deals develop over time.

Do you take time to think about what a great deal would look like for your counterpart? Try asking meaningful questions so you can find ways to create value.  Professor Susskind Vice Chair of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School said “Many people inadvertently shut the door to value-creating possibilities by failing to engage in cooperative behaviors, because they fear it makes them look weak.” 

Can you name a example where you considered your counterparts goals and created value in a negotiation?