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Listening: The Golden Rule of Successful Negotiations

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You know the feeling of frustration you get when you know you aren’t being heard? It’s the same feeling your potential client has when you place more importance in the pitch you’ve prepared than what he or she has to say during a negotiation. Negotiation is about striking a balance—this isn’t possible without hearing both sides. If you don’t know how to effectively listen, potential clients will stop trying to communicate altogether.

The Importance of Listening

It’s in many peoples’ nature to talk too much when they’re nervous. Silence can feel uncomfortable during a negotiation, so negotiators strive to fill the silence with their own voice. Unfortunately, this habit gives clients the impression you aren’t interested in hearing what they have to say. Instead of nervously filling conversation gaps with empty words, try to listen.

Studies show that people spend 60% of an average conversation talking about themselves. You is a subject you know and feel good about discussing. Reverse the situation, and realize your potential client would also like to spend 60% of the conversation talking about him or herself. Now you may understand why listening is often better than talking during a negotiation.

Talking about the self encourages feelings of motivation and reward. When you allow potential client to talk about their own needs, wants, and feelings, you’re encouraging these positive feelings. Truly listening to a client makes an enormous difference in how they perceive you and your company. Practice good listening techniques, and train your employees to do the same.

Practice Active Listening

True listening is active. It’s a dynamic process that involves acknowledgement, inquiry, and restatement. It’s not static listening while your potential client talks. Psychologist John M. Grohol describes active listening as a skill that “builds rapport, understanding, and trust.” He has a few tips on how to become a better listener:

  • Summarize what you’ve heard
  • Use brief conversation prompts to show you’re listening
  • Repeat things the client says in your own words
  • Ask probing questions to draw more information from the client
  • Take advantage of silence
  • Avoid distraction while the other person is talking
  • Provide feedback to clarify certain points

Active listening not only shows your client that you care about what he or she to say, but it will also ultimately allow you to respond to clients’ needs more thoroughly. Listening is a skill that requires constant practice to keep up. If you master effective listening techniques, you’ll engage more fully with clients and reap the benefits of their appreciation: new business.

4 Simple Ways to Build Credibility (And Influence People)

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Building credibility is the first step toward influencing others. You wouldn’t want your team to say yes to someone who walked off the street with zero credentials—and neither does the client you’re pitching to. How does one build credibility in a world where businesses come and go at supersonic speeds? With honesty, authenticity, and a little bit of good old-fashioned gumption.

#1: Learn What Today’s Businesses Want to Hear

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, a global survey on corporate credibility, a certain set of factors typically influence corporate reputation. When asked what the most important factors were to corporate reputation, 83% of subjects answered, “Transparent and honest practices.” Another 83% answered, “[A] company I can trust.” Compare these responses to a mere 45% of subjects who believe “financial returns” to be the most important factor—or the 58% who said, “prices fairly.”

#2: Establish Your Brand’s Authenticity

Businesses don’t want to hear about how well your company is doing this quarter. Sure, that might establish that your enterprise isn’t going under anytime soon, but it doesn’t express your trustworthiness. Instead, touch on these points during a negotiation:

• Your company’s loyal customer following
• The values your company commits to 100%
• Topics your company is passionate about
• Your company’s authenticity, proven by a blog or social media presence

By focusing on what gives your company heart, you can establish your brand’s personality. When you let the party you’re influencing get to know you and your brand, he or she will make a judgment based on an emotional connection.

#3: Support Your Claims With Statistics

Nothing builds credibility like cold, hard facts. Numbers don’t lie. If you have relevant statistics about your brand you can cite during negotiations, client will have no choice but to see that you’re credible. For example, simply stating that your client base is made up of “a lot” of returning clients sounds weaker than stating, “75% of our clients are repeat customers who come back to our company for consistent high quality.”

#4: Stick to Your Guns

A brand that wavers on its core values, beliefs, and life’s work is a banner brand for fickleness. Don’t change your values according to what you think a client wants to hear. Instead, establish your brand based on original intent for the company. During negotiations training, teach your employees to stand firm on your company’s core values. Steep your brand in concrete beliefs and confidence, and your clients will recognize you as a voice of authority—someone they trust and want to work with.

How to Encourage Corporate Social Responsibility

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The younger generations entering today’s workforce are far less concerned with benefits and compensation than previous generations were and are more concerned with sustainability, personal freedom, and responsible corporate citizenship. Today’s workforce wants to work for companies that are more concerned with helping their fellow man and the world than they are with their bottom lines.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a company’s commitment to sustainable operations and giving back to society and environment. It isn’t just the right thing to do – it has significant benefits for the companies that embrace it. Consumers do more research today on the products they buy and the companies they support than ever before, and they can do this research almost instantly from anywhere in the world.

CSR Encourages Innovation

Some companies have trouble maintaining high employee morale and some are looking for ways to make their employees feel more valued and engaged in their work. Driving a CSR-focused campaign is a great way to encourage creativity and boost workplace morale if the employees think they’re making positive changes for the world. Emphasize the importance of a CSR initiative during training sessions, so employees know why they’re doing what they’re doing, and why it matters to the company, their community, and the world.

Using CSR to Cut Costs

Corporate social responsibility can entail pursuing more sustainable energy solutions. Lean operations are quickly becoming the norm in the corporate world, and organizations are looking to cut unnecessary expenses, time sinks, and operations to work more efficiently. Doing so often involves adopting more eco-friendly solutions to workplace operations and saves operating costs at the same time. Your company’s employees and shareholders will be proud to associate with an environmentally responsible company.

CSR Sets Your Brand Apart

Committing to sustainable operating procedures, engaging in philanthropy (such as charity events), and adopting ethical labor standards are ways your company will stand apart as one that is concerned with the world’s wellbeing and wants to make a positive impact on it. The younger generation of consumers is also going to be more likely to support brands that are committed to sustainability and ethical operations, rather than simply looking for the best deals.

Building Long-Term Relevance

Creating a company culture with CSR as a bedrock value is a surefire way for a business to stay relevant in a constantly morphing world. Employees are more likely to find value in their work and daily routines when they know their organization is committed to helping make a better world for everyone they touch – their customers, partners, employees, shareholders, and their local communities all benefit from CSR-focused values and programs.

How to Negotiate an Extra Day Off from Work

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The workforce is more competitive than ever these days. With the economy on the upswing, more businesses are trying to find employees and entice those who may have given up on finding steady work. This being said, we all need a day off from work occasionally. Whether you’re sick, dealing with a family emergency, or just need a “mental health day,” a day off gives you the chance to rest, recharge, and breathe. You can negotiate for extra time successfully if you follow the right tips.

Know Your Workplace’s Policies

Every workplace, and often every department supervisor, has a different policy when it comes to time off. Some companies, such as Xerox, allow employees to buy extra vacation time, deducting from your pay using pre-tax dollars. Others have similar leave without pay (LWOP) policies, and some will allow leave with pay depending on the circumstances.

For example, you are more likely to get leave with pay to take care of a chronically ill child or other family member. However, never take any policy for granted. Do your homework, especially in regard to your department or supervisor. How often does this department or person grant extra time off? Under what circumstances? How many vacation or sick days are negotiable? Answer these questions before ever bringing up extra time off.

Be Calm

Negotiating extra time off can sometimes be emotional. You may want the extra time because you’ve been given a heavier workload than usual, or perhaps you are expected to do others’ work without overtime or credit. You may need the extra time because you’re unexpectedly ill or because a family member has a serious need.

These situations can tempt you to get angry or even cry during negotiations. Try to avoid this. Although most employers are understanding, too much emotion is off-putting. Anger especially can make you look disrespectful or ungrateful. If you have a pressing need or a grievance related to extra time off, take a deep breath and prepare yourself. You could even practice the request with a trusted colleague.

Respond to Needs

Ideally, you’ll ask for extra time off when it’s convenient for both you and your boss. Sometimes though, this isn’t possible. If you must ask for extra time off during a busy season, be prepared to compromise. If you really want a week, perhaps you could compromise and take three days. If you need four days, maybe you can take two.

Empathize with your supervisor. Say something like, “I know we’re in a busy time. What can I do to help?” Offer to check in during your time off, or come in on a day you’d normally be absent to make up for the extra time. Additionally, offer to work with the people who’ll cover for you so they know exactly what your duties entail.

Be Confident and Warm

When negotiating for time off, be confident, but be friendly. Avoid “closed” body language like crossed arms; this can make you look demanding. Emphasize your hard work or remind your boss of something you’ve done well, but don’t say things like, “I deserve this.” If you’d like extra help, check out our negotiation training for assistance.

The Difference between Settling and Compromising in Corporate Negotiations

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Settling for something less than what we think we deserve can feel like giving up. Compromise, on the other hand, leaves us feeling like we’ve taken something away from a deal. The question then, is what is the difference between compromising and settling? Is one better than the other? Should both be avoided? How can businesses win through compromise? Once you know the difference, you can answer questions like this and make your negotiations more successful.

The Difference between Compromising and Settling 

Whether a negotiation feels like you’ve settled or like you’ve reached a compromise may depend on the way decisions were reached, rather than on the actual outcome. The language for each implies that two or more parties will commit to something, namely, upholding the decision that is reached.

Settling, however, does not imply negotiation. Instead, settling usually involves a unilateral decision. In other words, a person selling his or her house may be settling for an asking price when he or she knows the home is actually worth more. A teacher given a specific curriculum to follow may have to settle in certain areas because he or she did not design that curriculum. The principal or other administrator decided this was what would be used, and the teacher needs to abide by that decision.

In contrast, compromise implies negotiation. Both parties have to “surrender” to some extent, but at the same time, both get some of what they want. Compromise involves the objective understanding of how much you and other people are worth. It also involves agreement to a plan that will benefit all involved parties instead of a unilateral decision that will benefit only some people at the table.

Why You Don’t Want to Settle 

Settling is generally seen as negative for many reasons. As mentioned, it gives involved parties less freedom. Additionally, settling can mean secrecy. This doesn’t always mean making agreements behind closed doors. Sometimes it simply means omitting information for someone else’s benefit. For instance, your friends usually don’t know that you settled for seeing the movie they want to see – but that you will hate – because you didn’t speak up. Your supervisor may not know that you settled for less time off because something in her body language or tone intimidated you.

Settling often leads to dissatisfaction, which can fester and become anger. To avoid this, you need to know how to make effective compromises.

Compromising Effectively 

Once you know you’ll have to compromise, step back and analyze what the other person or people are telling you. What is their greatest need right now? For example, you might be asking for a raise at a time when your company is financially strapped. Ask yourself if there is a way to be satisfied with less money than you expected, while still getting more. Perhaps instead of a 10% raise, you could ask for 5%. Maybe your supervisor could give you a small consulting fee or overtime pay instead of a permanent raise for the work you already do.

If you need to know more about compromising and how to do it effectively, our negotiation training can help you.

How to Use Compromise to Achieve Your Goals

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Compromise is an essential element in any interaction. In business specifically, compromise is critical to ensuring the needs of all parties are met and that healthy and prosperous relationships are fostered and maintained.

Leave the Emotions Out of It

In some business situations, emotions can be helpful. Compromising is not one of these situations. When either side shows emotion, it can convey weakness, which the other party will use to their advantage. A compromise is when both parties come to a mutual agreement that is beneficial to everyone. To leave emotions out of the process, you must remain solution oriented. Address facts and problems, and work together to solve them. If you start to show anger towards the other party, it becomes personal. The desire to make a compromise will be squelched. Keep it rational, and ignore your personal differences.

Be Honest

Being honest with yourself and others is one of the most effective ways to reach a compromise. If you establish your goals up front, there’s no need to beat around the bush and waste time. Communicate with the other parties why these goals are important, and they will be more likely to understand and work with you. Likewise, be honest with yourself and your own responses. Identify the traits within yourself that may negatively affect your ability to compromise, and manage them before they become a problem.

Explore All Your Options

Prior to negotiating, come up with all possible outcomes and their alternatives. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each for both sides. Addressing multiple solutions to a problem demonstrates your willingness to meet in the middle. If you communicate effectively and intelligently, it shows the other side that compromise works for everyone. You will end the negotiation on a positive note and leave them with a feeling that they’ve “won” something, too. 

Above All, Stay Positive

In all situations, a positive attitude greatly affects the outcome. Staying positive reflects confidence and a genuine regard for others. Others will be much more willing to compromise their needs and meet yours if you maintain a persistently positive attitude throughout the meeting. Think about it: why are successful salespeople good at their jobs? They’re warm and welcoming, and they make customers feel like their needs matter. It’s much easier to reach a compromise with a pleasant and genuine person, and it allows both sides to feel like they’ve come out on top.

 

Sources:

https://hms.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/assets/Sites/Ombuds/files/NegotiationConflictStyles.pdf

http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2013/jul/31/startups-negotiation-compromise-credibility

http://blog.dalecarnegie.com/leadership/12-tips-for-negotiating-and-compromising-with-difficult-people/