The Strategist

How to create a friendly atmosphere at negotiations

02/22/2019 - 04:27

Sometimes emotions interfere with negotiations. They can destroy the possibility of a rational agreement, turn friendship into a long-term enmity and kill hope for a just resolution of the conflict. But at the same time, they can be an important positive factor. The main thing is to be able to benefit from them.

Good or bad, most of the emotions that arise in the negotiation process are generated by basic needs, such as recognition or affiliation. These needs are characteristic of all people, which means that you can immediately resort to their help, even if you are communicating with someone for the first time.
Regardless of whether you know what your opponent is feeling and why, you can say or do something that affects one of his basic needs, and eventually trigger a positive reaction.
Express recognition
Recognition is a very important need. Each of us wants to be appreciated. Results of this are obvious. We feel better and more confident if we are appreciated. We are becoming more open to dialogue and motivated to cooperate.
If you help the other side feel their importance, you benefit, too. If you want to show your interlocutor that his opinion is valuable to you, you need to take the following steps.
  • Understand someone else's point of view. Put yourself in your opponent's position and try to understand how he perceives the situation. At the same time, the ability to listen and ask the right question should be your main helper. Even if it seems to you that you already understand the point of view of the interlocutor, he may still want to talk about himself. Be prepared to listen to him. Pay attention not only to the words, but also to the hidden meaning, emotional background, facial expressions and gestures. Sometimes body language expresses the exact opposite of what a person says.
  • Find value in other people's thoughts, feelings and actions. Think about why your opponent’s point of view seems important and convincing to him. You may not share his position, but this does not prevent to see the value in the way of thinking and belief, which led your interlocutor to such a conclusion. At the same time sincerity is of paramount importance. You really should see value in someone else's point of view. Only if you are convinced of the importance of the position of your interlocutor, he will feel that he is appreciated.
  • Demonstrate your understanding, express it in words and deeds. If you understand someone else's point of view and find some value in it, say it. Your comments should be relevant and clearly articulated, appropriate to the circumstances and, most importantly, be honest. No need for verbosity. The main thing is to convey to the interlocutor that you properly assessed his thoughts, feelings or actions. The easier you do it, the better. Please note: to recognize someone else's point of view is not the same as saying: “I agree with you” or “I will do as you suggest.”
Create affiliation
The word "affiliation" comes from the Latin verb affiliate, meaning "adopt, take in the family." In terms of basic need, affiliation describes our sense of belonging to another person or group.
In the presence of affiliation, working together becomes much easier. We begin to treat another person not as a stranger, but rather as a member of the family. As a result, both parties seek to protect mutual interests, trying to find a benefit for a partner. In this case, resistance to new ideas decreases, and there is a willingness to change the point of view if necessary. Loyalty to each other forces us to be frank, to find mutually beneficial solutions and increases the likelihood that we will appreciate the agreement reached.
Below are a few tips to help you establish an affiliation with your negotiating partners.
  • Before starting negotiations, try to find something in common with partners. At the beginning of the meeting it is useful to have a frank conversation on the topics that unite you. It can be age (“In the current economic situation, I often think about retirement”), position (“Does your boss also make you work all weekends like ours?”), family (“Do you have children? How do you manage to combine work with your personal life?”), general hobbies, such as hiking, music or chess or anything else. 
  • Make an appointment to meet in an informal setting, if appropriate.
  • Introduce yourself informally, suggest calling you by name. "Hello. I am Sam Johnson. Please call me Sam. Can I also call you by name?”
You do not have to share your secrets to establish affiliation. The point is not about making new friends but in that both sides see living people in the course of negotiations.
If the efforts to establish affiliation lead to the fact that someone becomes uncomfortable from the invasion of personal space, take a step back. You may have gone too far. In this case, it is better to change the topic or pause.

Based on "Beyond Reason. Using Emotions as You Negotiate" by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro

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