April 19

Episode 24 – Negotiation Techniques: Listening Techniques & Physical Approaches


In this episode of I break down the second to final episode under negotiation techniques into two categories. These categories are Listening Techniques and Physical Negotiation Techniques, both of which have their own sub-categories. I recommend selecting the particular technique that works best depending on the situation and what the negotiator aims to achieve. Or even combine two or more techniques when it’s deemed necessary.

Each technique is explained in depth with scenario examples.

Hello, my dear negotiators. This episode is the second to last in our ultimate list on negotiation techniques. In this episode we combine two smaller categories. First, we cover listening techniques and after that we focus on physical approaches. Have you already sent me your questions? As mentioned in previous episodes, I want to hear and hopefully answer your questions and asking me directly is quite easy. Go to ProcurementZen.com/ask and record a question. Want to know how to uncover a bluff? Go to procurementZen.com/ask.

Need last-minute tips on negotiation preparation, go to ProcurementZen.com/ask, or do you want to educate yourself and want to know what the best negotiation book is? It's easy as pie. Go to ProcurementZen.com/ask and click, start recording. In one of the next episodes, I will answer those questions. And as always, you will find the show notes for this episode over at ProcurementZen.com/024. That's 024, for episode 24.

And now, let's dive into today's episode about listening techniques and then physical negotiation techniques. Let's go.

Are you looking to up your negotiation and procurement skills? You're in the right place. Welcome to ProcurementZen with your host, Phil Kowalski.

First, let's have a look at listening techniques. The first item in the listening techniques category is speed of speech. This tip is very short, but it works very good to uncover lies. When people lie, their speech slows down and gets shrill. Listen closely to any change in speed and sound of speech, note it down and ask many questions. This will help you in uncovering a bluff or blatant lie. Next is inactive listening. This is yet another aggressive or even frustration technique. Inactive listening means, you are doing something different. You show no interest and ask many questions for repetition. “Jim, I'm Sorry. Can you repeat that please?”

It seems you are participating but somehow their message doesn't come through to you. “Sorry, I was distracted. Again, please?” It also works as a good pattern interrupt. If you change it with active listening, which we will cover in a few seconds in a fast frequency. Next is listening by selection. This is also known of course as selective listening. It's our standard way of receiving messengers. We hear what we want to hear, but if you add playback to this listening mode, you gain advantages.

Supplier says, “We can get down to $13.27 per item if you ordered 1,000 pieces or more.” You “All right, I noted 13.27 per item.” It doesn't work right away, but it's a nibble technique. If you do this over and over again, the other side sooner or later gives in. Next is active listening. Active listening is what you're told to do or what you should do. That's at least what everyone says. I would recommend that you select the listening techniques carefully. It depends on what you want to achieve. Active listening relates to labeling.

See, also Chris Voss's book "never split the difference" about this if you want to learn more. In active listening, you complete what the other side has to say. You do this by feeding back what you heard. I would suggest however, that you do not feed back with the words, I hear. Instead use, it seems or it looks. You can also see more detailed insights from me in my YouTube video, which you can find over at ProcurementZen.com/024 for episode 24.

Next is competitive listening. This negotiation technique can be mistaken for active listening, but it is a bit more aggressive. You listen as long as you have to, often interrupting the other party and giving back your view. It also includes how you, as in, you, you, you have perceived the message. It is a very dominant and aggressive listening technique. Supplier says, “For the price of 14.59 per item, we can give you the premium coating. We understand that this is a little bit above your budget, but …” “I see. You want to charge us 20% more and we only get the coating on top? You're going a little bit over the top here. For me it feels like you're trying to squeeze everything out of our relationship and I don't like that.”

You see that the competitive listening response is all about me, I and we. If you discover this behavior, you know you're dealing with dominant personality type. You can find lots of info online, on these personality types and on how to deal with these people. You may want to use that if you want to gain back control over the negotiation. Next is combative listening. Combative listening is even more aggressive than competitive listening, but the main purpose here is to put the other side down. It is very close to insulting and uses phrases like, “Don't you hear what we said? Seems like you're out of your mind. Maybe you're not able to think this through.”

Again, strong indicator for D types if you experienced this from others. Next is passive listening. Passive listening is the exact opposite of active listening. At a glance, it may seem relaxed, but it is also an aggressive technique because you do not notice what the other side is saying and it's close to ignoring them. And then the final item in the listening category here, I told you it's a small one, it's attentive listening. This negotiation technique is also related to active listening. The one thing that's different is that you do not respond or give feedback. You listen closely, focus, you could even take notes.

The advantage of this approach is interesting. You have much more opportunities to spot body language and nonverbal cues. With a weak negotiation partner, you increase their insecurity, if that is what you want. They cannot tell what you're thinking, hence, they are making up potential scenarios in their minds.

ProcurementZen with your host, Phil Kowalski. We'll be right back.

Did you know that you can get a free guide on how to get your message across to your counterparts? It's all about improving your presentations by using visuals. Go to SellMoreIdeas.com to download for free. So, why is that important? Because getting heard will help you in your career. I have received more invitations to management meetings than ever before after I have applied this easy-to-learn skill. I also improved negotiation results up to a level that vendors nearly asked me, “Where do I have to sign?”

You can get it at SellMoreIdeas.com and in the guide I show you the refined essence of my years of learning. Believe me when I say, everyone can improve their slide decks with visuals. And no, you don't have to be a designer or an artist and no, it doesn't have to take long. Head over to SellMoreIdeas.com and make sure others get what you have to say.

Back to the show, ProcurementZen with your host, Phil Kowalski.

And here comes the second category of this episode and it's, physical approaches. First, tactile warmth. Providing a warm beverage, especially in winter time, warm and cozy rooms. All these approaches work with tactile warmth. There's scientific research that indicates that tactile warmth leads to more concessions. See the article on the website for this example, go to ProcurementZen.com/024, that's 024 for episode 24.

Next is sweets. Like tactile warmth, believe it or not, providing sweets will also lead to more concessions. There is also scientific proof of this. Higher glucose levels help our counterpart to see our requests in a more favorable light. Serve sweet food instead of sausages, for example. Next is atmosphere of trust. Before entering the meeting room, give the other side a tour of your factory or your offices. Make sure to mention the following, “You know Samantha, this is usually not possible. But as you are a trusted partner, we are happy to give you more insights than our standard vendors.”

This leverages some to a special position and it makes them want to honoring your trust by making concessions. And you put the proof in the pudding by doing something physical. You're not just showing images of the factory, you just lead them through it. This makes you much more believable. Next is noisy environments. Choose a meeting room in a noisy space. Then mention the important topics in a slow and quiet voice. This raises the other side's attention and puts a lot of extra focus on your requests. Open a window to the street, for example, or leave the door open. Famous psychiatrist, Milton Erickson used this in his session to great success. You can learn more about one of the founders of NLP on my website.

Next is reducing physical distance. This is an advanced negotiation technique you could use to your advantage. Draw something on a flip chart and then bring it physically closer to your counterpart. This will raise the attention and bring your topic into their main focus. You also could use handouts instead of a flip chart and print them out, oversize if possible. Then move these items closer to the negotiation lead of the other party.

Next is person focus. Always be sure to be in the focus of the other party's leader. If you're the negotiation lead, don't sit aside. Make sure they can see you and see you directly. This is by the way, another attention-grabbing technique I extracted from Pre-Suasion, the second great masterpiece book of Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence. What gets attention will make the topic more important, hence it's more likely to get an approval from the other side.

Next, is the gender game; sad but true. If you're dealing with a dominant negotiation lead, they usually try to impress the opposite sex. Use that to your advantage. If you're dealing with dominant females, ensure that a man, an attractive man places the important requests and vice versa, of course. Next is negative body language. Use negative body language if you are not satisfied. This includes crossing your arms, putting your head down, crossing your legs, disappointed facial expressions, shaking your head.

This works very well if you're older than the person on the other side you're dealing with. Your age gives you an experience bonus. This leads to self-improving offers and more concessions. Next is shake hands. This negotiation tactic is very powerful, especially in Western culture. Yes, we talk about contracts and papers and documents all the time, but a firm handshake on an important topic usually seals the deal. “Thank you, Amanda. That was a long discussion. Let's shake hands on this agreement.” Although of course a handshake is not legally binding, it comes close in strength to a signature. It's a sign to stand in for a promise the other side has made.

Next is the hunger games. No, this has nothing to do with the book or movie. It's rather using hunger to your advantage. “Before we go to lunch, James, we need to get the payment terms off the table, so, can we agree on 90 days net?” You refuse to provide food before the other side makes a concession. Even more powerful, if you have food delivered but do not allow to, “touch it” before the other party agrees to your request.

Next is nice weather. The 2003 study found that people are more willing to take risks and are more agreeable in nice weather conditions. Good weather seems to lead to a better move which in return leads to more concessions. So, if you could choose days out of the week, use that day where the weather forecast says, it will be the best in the week. There's also a nice article by the way about this effect by the Edge Negotiation Group.

Last on the list of negotiation techniques, the physical approaches, is time of day. If you can, choose a morning session to improve your negotiation results. Studies have shown that the morning increases the chance of agreement. I have used this quite a lot in combination with the hunger games negotiation technique mentioned before. Start at 9:00 AM and make sure to have an agenda that refers to refocus or open topics. Then use these last 30 minutes to combine both approaches; hunger games, and the early start.

This was our negotiation techniques episode about listening and physical approaches. Find the show notes over at ProcurementZen.com/024, that's 024 for episode 24. One more episode to come with just another highlight category, so make sure to subscribe to educate yourself, make better deals and ultimately advance in your career. Until next week and always happy negotiations, yours truly, Phil. Bye.

Thanks so much for listening to this episode of ProcurementZen with Phil Kowalski. For more great content and to stay up-to-date, visit ProcurementZen.com. If you enjoyed today's episode, please review and subscribe and we'll catch you next time on ProcurementZen.

Episode Highlights

  • What does Speed of Speech help the negotiator to uncover? 
  • Inactive Listening works as a good pattern interrupt
  • What is Listening by Selection more familiarly known for? 
  • What does everyone say about Active Listening? 
  • How does Competitive Listening differ from Active Listening?
  • What is the main purpose of Combative Listening?
  • Why is Passive Listening an aggressive type of Listening Technique?
  • Attentive Listening offers more opportunities to spot body language and non-verbal cues.
  • Tactile Warmth leads to more concessions.
  • Serve sweet food for a higher chance of your requests being favoured.
  • How can one become a more believable negotiator? 
  • How does a noisy environment help raise a person’s closer attention?
  • Leverage on hunger for a faster concession.
  • What kind of weather is favourable to an agreement and when is the best time of the day to hold a meeting?

Key points

  1. The big negotiation part is where you increase the other party’s insecurities. They cannot tell what you are thinking hence, they are making up potential scenarios in their minds.
  2. The topic appears more important if it draws attention. 
  3. A firm handshake on an important topic usually seals the deal.


The Ultimate List of Negotiation Techniques

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