Mastering behavioral science is the key to mastering negotiation. Nearly everything humans do is based on insecurities and ego: namely the opinion of self and how others view us. Identifying and manipulating insecurities is the most efficient method to reach a favorable resolution in a negotiation. Friendship and rapport can be built and used to collect information that the other side would likely guard in a normal situation. My past guest on Negotiations Ninja, Jack Schafer, is the author of The Like Switch, and a retired FBI agent focusing on behavioral science. Jack has become an expert in using behavioral science to engineer positive results in negotiation. We had a discussion on the podcast about how, as negotiators, we can all engineer positive results by applying behavioral science to negotiation.
It is probably news to most that there is a proven formula explaining friendship strength. Proximity, plus frequency, plus duration, plus intensity, is the basis for all camaraderie. Think that over for a minute in concerning all of your relationships. Mind sufficiently blown? Good. The truth is, a connection will collapse or muddle if there is not constant growth in the form of discovery or experience. Think of the monotony of failing marriages and apply that to professional relationships. By using the Hansel and Gretel technique, throwing out crumbs of information instead of massive piles, the other side remains interested and invested in what we have to say.
In any new professional relationship or negotiation, apply the golden rule of friendship. Simply, make our counterparts feel good. Empathetic statements are the most direct way to use the golden rule. It allows the other side security because they are being listened to. This allows the other side to feel that they are carving out a highly valued position and creates happiness, which leads to rapport.
To construct and empathetic statement, begin with “so you,” and then mirror language the other side has used. Acknowledge their feelings, and allow the discussion to center around any information they give about their current state of emotion. It acknowledges their feelings and leads to them giving up more information.
To make ourselves more approachable and to identify our acceptance from others, universal friendship signals can be used. Subconscious messages show others we are not threats. A quick flash of the eyebrows, tilting the head to expose the carotid artery, and smiling are all universal friendship signals we all inadvertently look for. Receiving a smile releases endorphins and makes us feel good. Smiling at the same person every day eventually leads to conversation, which then leads to establishing common ground and rapport.
Common ground is the fastest shortcut to a resolution. To create common ground, use empathetic statements, identify common interests, and determine the same past experiences. Common ground allows our counterparts to let their guard down and give up information that can be used to influence their opinions. If we can establish common ground over coffee or a meal, it is likely to be another shortcut to reaching a favorable resolution. Over 70% of information is exchanged over food and drink, so employing that tactic to negotiation could lead to increased rapport.
For more with Jack Schafer, listen to Negotiations Ninja. Head over to my Linkedin for more excellent negotiation content.