In this article, you’re going to learn how to master the art of negotiation and persuasion for your business. So whether you’re speaking to manufacturers or contract workers, or maybe you’re just looking to sell to more potential customers, these tips are going to help you get what you want out of your negotiations. So let’s get into it. Chris Voss is a former FBI hostage negotiator, and he’s the author of never split the difference: negotiating as if your life depended on it. Now, the first thing that we wanted to find out was how well the average person negotiates and Chris told that we all tend to overestimate our negotiation abilities. He says, unfortunately, while our negotiation approach seems very smart, eloquent, and remarkable in our minds. Most people are just kind of average. When we think about the times that we negotiated an extra $2 at a yard sale, or when we negotiated a raise, we consider ourselves to be negotiation experts. This natural overconfidence is actually our biggest negotiation weakness, Chris says. People feel the need to make their point. And they think their point is the solution. My solution is not just my solution. It’s the solution. We all think we’re rational, reasonable, and smart. But the problem is that everybody has this mindset. So we all end up just talking past each other instead of aggressively arguing for our solutions. We should be focused on creating epiphany moments for the people that we’re negotiating with. Chris explains that persuasion and negotiation have very little to do with your opinion. Chris says great communication is about providing epiphany moments. What’s the advantage of an epiphany moment? Well, they feel bonded to whoever provided that epiphany people feel grateful. There’s an emotional attachment that is instantaneously created toward whoever provided that epiphany. All right. So together let’s look at the nine time was principles of negotiating. 

Be a mirror

Starting with number one, be a mirror. Okay. So when you’re acting as a mirror. You allow the other person to see themselves in you, you don’t let pushing your own agenda be more important than understanding your audience. Your focus should be on the other person. So listen to what they’re saying about who they are and what they want. To be successful here, don’t make assumptions. What you’re going to want to do is you’re just going to want to be very present in the negotiation so that you’re picking up on cues. And also persuasion actually is not about conflict. It’s more about discovery. So you want to make sure that you’re discovering their hesitations and their needs. 

Don’t feel their pain

So next tip for you is don’t feel their pain, label it. Empathy is an important part of persuasion. You can’t negotiate well, if you’re not relating to the other person, but keep in mind that you don’t need to feel their pain or agree with it. You just need to empathize with them, label it and let them know that you understand, you know, you probably will have an opinion one way or another, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t empathize with both sides. Let’s say you’re negotiating with your graphic designer. You could tell them. I understand it is important for you to be paid fairly for your time and your talent. However, I’m working with limited funds since I am a startup, right? So in this example, you can see how both sides are addressed. Now, remember that you are dealing with real people, right? They want to be understood. They want to be appreciated. So belittling your counterpart’s argument and just, you know, forcing your own is not going to work. Also, this is pretty interesting. So understanding why the other person won’t make the deal is actually more important than trying to guess what it would take for them to make the deal. So basically your job is to understand those objections and then try to clear those barriers.

Don’t be afraid of a no

So next tip is, don’t be afraid of a no. Now, according to Chris. No, makes people feel safe when they’re negotiating. It makes them feel like they’re in the driver’s seat. Now this is especially true when the other party is really pushing for that yes. Because people tend to get defensive and they tend to respond with a no, but triggering a no can actually be a good thing. It’s like a clue for you. You know, you’re about to learn something because no tells you what their objections and their hesitations are. A Yes, of course is your final goal, but aiming for it right out the gate can make your counterpart raise their guard. So don’t be afraid of a no, by triggering a no, you’re going to gain insights into their objections and their hesitations and that’s going to allow you to define what their desires are much more clearly. So when you do get to no, and you will get a no, of course, at some point, you’re going to want to make sure that you’re asking questions. Questions is one of your most useful tools for persuasion. So use questions to unblock your paths, to get you closer to your goal. 

The perfect answer from the client

Tip number four is triggered the two words that immediately transform any negotiation. The two most powerful words that you can hear in any negotiation are “that’s right”. So if you get your counterpart to say those two words, then you’ve transformed the conversation hearing that’s right. Is actually even better than Yes. Well, according to Chris, this can lead to a change of thoughts and actions. The more the other person feels understood. The more likely it is that they’re going to take your desired action. And of course, that’s a win for you. Now, outside of just B2B, you can actually use this tactic in a way that’s going to help you sell to your potential customers. Okay, so for example, whisky river soap actually weaves this concept of relatability into their candles. This candle is particularly effective because it makes a relatable statement and then they even end their question with, right? So take a look at this candle too. If you’re an introvert or if you’re a middle child, you can probably relate. And in your head, you’re probably thinking that’s right. So this positive regard actually makes it more likely that you’ll be willing to buy the candle. So keep that in mind, as you’re selling to your customers.

Bend their reality

next tip is to bend their reality. So a fast deadline is going to add urgency to a negotiation. So items near the checkout at a grocery store is a very common example. So let’s say you’re standing there, you’re waiting to pay for your items. And then you notice a chocolate bar. Do you need that chocolate bar? Oops. You grabbed it now you’ve already paid, right? You didn’t initially come here to buy that chocolate bar, but given that it was your last chance to grab one, you went with it. Applying urgency when you’re negotiating with your customers is very common. This tactic can also be used when you’re negotiating. So, for example, let them know that a decision needs to be made by a certain time. Even if that time is arbitrary for you, there’s no need to be aggressive here. You know, you could just give them a gentle nudge and that can also be effective, but remind them why it benefits them to make a quick decision. Psychology is funny. People would rather avoid a loss than realize a gain. So when you’re negotiating put the focus on an opportunity that they would be missing out. If they don’t act fast, this is known as loss aversion, and the wise words of Chris, we are emotional irrational creatures in predictable pattern. You can trigger a loss aversion in your customers by simply letting them know that they’re going to lose out on a significant discount or maybe miss out on a free next business day delivery. If they take too long to decide.

Give your counterpart the control

next step for you guys is give your counterpart the control. So you might be familiar with what’s known as the Ikea effect. Basically, we assign a high value to things that we partially create. So that $40 Ikea table is going to be worth so much more to us after we’ve struggled through assembling it right? Now similarly, if your counterpart arrives to a solution on their own, it is more impactful than if you were to push them to get there. So what this means is you’re going to want to put your counterpart in the drivers. So to do this, you’re going to want to use a questions and options to gently point your counterpart towards that idea that you have in mind. So if you structure these carefully, that result might actually be in your favor. So ask questions that start with how or what, and that’s going to inspire a longer risk. Questions that start with why can be perceived as accusations and accusations are actually going to make your counterpart dig deeper and really just defend their position more intensely. So to avoid this, always try to reframe your questions and start with how and what, so let’s say you’re negotiating minimum order quantities with your supplier, or maybe you’re negotiating with an artisan. You may ask them, how long does it take to make one unit? Now, if you know that they can create a single unit pretty fast, then they may come to the conclusion on their own that it is reasonable to come down and pricing. 

Now, if you were to ask, why does it take you so long to make a single unit, then it’s gonna, you know, it’s going to elicit a completely different. So keep that in mind, a lot of factors play into flawless execution, but Chris emphasizes that demonstrating your humanity and humor breaks the ice and builds rapport. So let’s look at how humor applies to selling your product, because when you’re selling a product, you really are negotiating with your customer, that this is a purchase that they need to make. Speak your customer’s language by using phrases that your ideal customers are already using. So pay attention to tone and pay attention to voice. If you can talk like your customers think, then it’s just going to build a connection and really provide an opening for you to ask questions, to learn more about their motivations and their objections. So for example, you could ask how questions in your surveys and on your website copy after building rapport. If you’re able to get your counterpart to agree with something. Three times then you’ll know you’re on the right track. Because at that point it’s just really hard to fake conviction repeatedly. So if you can get your counterpart to agree with you more than three times, you’re good to go.

Bargain hard

So next tip is to bargain hard. Decreasing raises will make your counterpart believe that they’re going to get the best possible value out of your deal. So for example, let’s say that, you know, you can offer a $10,000 to close the deal, but obviously you’re not going to start there right? Instead, you’re going to start with $6,000, then you’re going to raise it to $7,000. Then $7,500, as the raises decrease, you’re letting them know that room is running out and that you’re approaching the best possible deal. This technique can also be applied to your marketing. So this can simply just look like tiered discounts so you can send an email out for 10% off, then it can be 20% off if that’s not accepted and then 30% off and so on. I would recommend that you end your numbers off on non round numbers. So let’s say for example, you have a price for $27, bring it down to 1599, because that makes it look like it’s a deal. All right. So here are some super useful tips as you’re bargaining. First of all, prepare for bargaining in advance. So set an ambitious, but a legitimate goal ahead of time. And also try to think of any objections or no scenarios so that you’re prepared ahead of time and make sure that you’re setting your boundaries, know what your absolute no are for you. 

Final tip

So final tip is to find the black Swan. So black swans are the unknown of all unknowns. They are the leverage multipliers. They are what you didn’t know, you didn’t know. And when you see a black Swan, it’s going to offer up a free space to make that deal. Your job is to deeply understand your counterparts worldview. So when you’re hunting for that black Swan, you’re going to find it in personal thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, values of your counterpart. So dig deep into their personality, hobbies, and lifestyle, and then find a note to relate. Research shows that we favor people who are just like us. So once you understand their worldview, just show them that you’re similar. These nine principles come from the book, never split the difference and that was written by Chris. So if you are a reader, definitely make sure to check that one out. But Chris says that potent persuasion rarely happens all at once. So make sure that you’re implementing these tips very logically and simply so that your communication doesn’t become cluttered. Refining your negotiation skills will not only make you persuasive in business, but in all aspects of your life.