Workplace Negotiating Insight No. 8:
“To Persuade, First Agree”
A Critical Negotiating Insight
Observe and Learn:
It is so often the case at work that we want to persuade others – customers, colleagues, clerks or even CEO’s – that our view, our idea or our plan is better than their own.
More often than not, we begin by saying – in one way or another – “I disagree with you,” “You are wrong,” or otherwise right away standing in stark opposition to their own position.
It may seem natural, normal or even the right thing to do. However, seasoned “persuaders” know that, generally, it is not. In fact, initial opposition to any idea is plainly counter-productive.
Why? Because initially expressing “I disagree” or “You are wrong” shuts down the other person’s “thinking mind,” their “hearing ears” and thus their emotional willingness to consider your own view. Instead it only raises their defenses to other opinions, and hardens their stance.
It’s like shutting – and locking – a door that you need to go through in a minute or two in order to enter a room.
To permit your thought the opportunity to enter the other person’s mind, wise negotiators know it is better to start off with a confirmation of the other person’s perspective, the other person’s idea or the other person’s plan. This will be so much more welcome by the other person that they will instinctively keep “open” their minds to your thoughts, their ears to your words, and their hearts to you.
First impressions are lasting impressions: It is much better that their first impression of you is of a “friend” and not of a “foe.”
How can you do that? Consider having on the ready comments like these:
• “That is really interesting.”
• “Wow, I never saw it that way before.”
• “I am so glad we’ve spoken; now I understand you better.”
• “Hearing you has opened up my mind.”
• “Your analysis seems to be correct in oh-so-many ways.”
• “Who can argue with that?”
In saying such things, have you committed complete agreement? No, not at all. Rather, all you have done is merely painted yourself to be a “friend,” not a “foe.” You’ve opened their ears, and their minds.
You are now more likely to get a fair hearing of: “Now that you have explained that, what do you think of these thoughts?”
So, first get “into” their mind by not shutting down their “ears” and “hearts, that is, their potential receptiveness to another view, idea or plan.
Then – and only then – you can suggest that facts, factors, data, thoughts and even conclusions that might be worthy of their own consideration, in turn. If the other person sees you as someone who understands them, they will be far more open to engaging in a true dialogue. Once their “ears” are open, their “heart and head” may just follow.
Observe and Learn.
Then Navigate and Negotiate.
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