Negotiation tips

1 Lesson I Learned This Year (Which I Intend to Keep Reminding Myself for Next Years)

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Can You Make the Same Mistake Again and again? And Still can’t learn the lesson  

Most of the time we tend to create so much fuss about little things that we can’t move forward. The situations which can be resolved by just a little bit of negotiation tend to get stretched to fights over generations.

Well, this year brought a lot of these little fights which I tried to win.

So, let me start with the first fight of the year…which wasn’t mine.

A Marriage that wasn’t going well.

Well, this year one of my friends got married, and he was having a very rough time with his future-father-in-law.

And if you don’ know, even a small marriage in India tend to have to a minimum of 200+ guest at least.

And that was driving my friend crazy.

After all, what’s the need for all this show.
Do we really need to have a live band?
Do we really need to cater to this large number of unknown people?
What’s the need for 50+ dishes on the menu?

All of these demands from his in-laws were creating a tense environment. And it was almost reaching to point of a verbal altercation. When suddenly his father-in-law came to him and said, ‘We are having this kind of event after 20-25 years in our family, would you help us all to enjoy and have a good time?’

And suddenly, my friend was pacified like he was waiting to hear this only.

At that time maybe, his father-in-law or my friend didn’t realize but he did put good use of skillful negotiation there.

Confrontation vs. Negotiation.

Though my friend was behaving like a finicky 7-year-old. He was swayed in less than three sentences to the girl’s father’s demands. That to me was an important lesson to learn because this year I was so involved in negotiating so many things. From justifying my freelancing rates to explaining career choice to my parents to convincing my neighbor to park his old scooter somewhere else.

Many of us, if you notice, tend to behave in only one way when things go wrong. And that is going straight down at the other person like a bull running after the red scarf.

Where things can be settled with just a little bit of talk, we tend to take it upon our ego and start blaming and bashing others

The point is…


Just take any day, for example. We will be arguing with our friends, partner or parents. That thing wasn’t supposed to here or the thing which was supposed to be here is somewhere else.

The flight has been delayed… and we look for the people to blame for choosing such a crappy airline.

Our first reaction is, always, confrontation.

Yet with a tiny bit of negotiation, so much can be achieved. And the best part is that you don’t even need other people to see your point of view.

As I was negotiating my writing rates with my clients, I realized that one book proved to be very helpful. In fact, it was so good that I read it 2 more times.

It was a book by the name ‘Never Split the Difference’ by an ex-FBI negotiator Chris Voss. There were a lot of helpful negotiation tips which I don’t remember. That’s is why I will talk about only one point of the book which helped a lot. And it is called “sounds like” Or (लगता है) … in Hindi. (You can also use “Looks like”)

Let me give you the example of this morning…

Suppose Someone has upset you.

I ordered a burger for myself, but got a cold one and very late. Well, the usual way was to make a face and yell a bit about the crappy service. But instead, I used this labeling technique and said, “Sounds like you are having a really rough day”

What do you think happened next? Yup, exactly.

You’re the only one who even considered the problems he is going through. He told me how rough his day was, and then suddenly he asked if I am waiting for someone. And of course, I was, and just like that, I was allowed to skip the line and get my order again.

Or Suppose it’s You who have upset someone

Probably it’s just a client, or perhaps it’s just a fight with your partner or friend. And they are trying to explain what you did wrong. Instead of explaining yourself, you simply say…

” Sounds like I didn’t write (or do the job) what you expected.”

Or sounds like this habit of mine (throwing a wet towel on the bed) bugs you a lot.

In simpler terms, you are labeling precisely what the 2nd person is feeling. And since you are kind of vague about it, they don’t feel like you’re pinning them down. It mostly feels like you’re sincere about the issue and wants to fix it as soon as possible. But you just don’t know how.

Negotiation Transforms Passion into Compassion

Now, I use ‘sounds like’ a lot in my conversations. In most of the negotiation, I will go prepared, but it’s the unexpected situations which tend to test my real patience.

When someone suddenly blames you for things which you aren’t even aware of. That’s why I practice to pause for a while and then start with ‘sounds like’ and see where it goes.

The thing is that we have practiced arguing so much that it has become a second nature of ours. It’s not the negotiation which is hard but to resist the urge of fighting.

“The path of peace is not a passive journey. It takes incredible strength not to open a can of ‘whoop-ass’, justifiably, when one’s button is pushed.”

― T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise

It’s not like that confronting another person (like a lazy employee, fraud clients, etc) will not get you results. In some cases, it may be the only way to go. But there is a strong sense of uncertainty when the confrontation comes into play.

Just like my friend’s father-in-law saw the stupidity of the situation and thus tried to avoid confrontation. Well, he didn’t use the ‘sounds like’ but that would have also done the job.

Now if you are like me, you would already have a bunch of books on your reading list. Still, if you want to add to that list (and at the top of that list), Chris Voss’s Never Split the Difference would be an excellent book to read. And if not, you can always use the simple “sounds like in your conversation.

And that was my most important learning of the year.

Still, reading?  Or not convinced yet about confrontation? Then read why arguing is a pretty waste of time.

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