I’m just back from running a Negotiations workshop in New York, and once again I am brim full of ideas of what works well and not so well when in a Negotiation.  The fact that I captured everything on video this time and have been reviewing these today prompted today’s Blog on the benefits of slowing things down when negotiating.

It doesn’t need to be an arm wrestle!

One of the people on the course was a very direct, to the point, “in a hurry” sort of sales guy, and he was negotiating with me over advertising rates.  We had a fairly strenuous  arm wrestle for about 10 minutes and he walked away having left all sorts of longer term options on the table and missed the opportunity for a long term relationship.

Then one of his colleagues demonstrated a very different approach:  calm, thoughtful, long pauses:  much more of a gentle approach, and far easier to open up with and get creative.  We ended up with a far more satisfying deal from both of our perspectives, and our arm wrestling colleague (who was watching) learnt a whole new approach.  It doesn’t have to be stressful, it doesn’t require baseball bats, and the best negotiators are the ones who use their two ears and one mouth in that proportion.

It prompted me to do some reading about this aspect, and I came across a great Blog from Karrass Training, which I summarise here.  It is about a technique they call the “considered response.”  The writer described what it was like to negotiate with someone who uses this technique.

“Whenever I made a demand, his first reaction was to listen carefully and take notes. Then when I was through presenting my demand, he would say nothing but would make calculations on a sheet of paper. After what appeared to me a long time, he would say, “I can’t afford to accept your demand.” His way of responding indicated to me that he had seriously weighed my arguments, even if he had not agreed with them.

Frankly, I don’t know whether he really figured out anything on that sheet of paper. For all I know, he might have been doodling. But I do know that his “considered response” gave his answer credibility and respect. It became a stronger “no”. “

So:  the next time the other party makes a demand or offer, be it acceptable or not, don’t respond to it with a “yes” or “no” right away. Just keep quiet and think about it for a bit.  Even better, write down on a piece of paper a few calculations that only you can see. Then answer “yes” or “no” or anything you please. Your considered response will give greater weight to your answer, whatever it is.

And you’ll have the advantage of  being able to use the silence to let yourself think, because as we all know, thinking and talking are difficult to do at the same time.