Negotiation: The Power of Suggestion in Negotiating

04/03/2023by dang tin0

The Power of Suggestion in Negotiating

HUMAN BEINGS are greatly influenced by their environments, and by the power of suggestion contained in people and situations around them.

Fully 95 percent of your thinking, feeling, and decisiod-making are influenced by or entirely controlled by your suggestive environment. Your job is 1) to be aware of the suggestive influences around you and the impact they can have on your thinking, and the thinking of the other party, and then 2) to do everything possible to control those elements.

Take, for example, location. The location in which negotiation takes place can have a major impact on the terms and conditions agreed upon. When you are in someone else’s office and surrounded by the other person’s furniture, personnel, and other elements, you automatically suffer a disadvantage in negotiating on your behalf. You are at a distinct psychological disadvantage because you are outside of your comfort zone, and the other person is firmly planted in her comfort zone. The other person will have greater confidence and a feeling of personal power, and you will have less confidence and a lesser feeling of power.

Change the Location

You will see quite often that in serious negotiations, such as in labor/management relations, politics, and especially complex business deals, the parties will agree to go to a separate location that is neutral and outside the comfort zone of either of them. This puts both parties on an equal footing in terms of the suggestive impact of their environment.
Something as simple as offering to discuss an issue over coffee or lunch at the local diner is superior to negotiating something serious in the other person’s office or boardroom or any other setting where that person has a psychological advantage.

The Power of Personality

Personality is another suggestive element. The best type of personality in a negotiation is empathetic, warm, and friendly. The more comfortable you feel with the other person, the more open and responsive you will be to that person’s requests in a negotiation. The opposite is also true. The more friendly and pleasant you are, the more likely it is that you will get a better deal than if you were reserved or abrasive.
Empathy has been identified as the number-one psychological quality of top salespeople. People who are the best at helping others enter into business transactions seem to have high degrees of empathy. They are liked and respected by the other person, and the other person feels comfortable entering into arrangements with them.

Positioning and Body Language

Another suggestive element is positioning and body language. According to Albert Mehrabian of UCLA, 55 percent of your communication with another person is contained in your body language—the way you physically move and position yourself relative to the other person.

The basic rule with regard to physical positioning is to avoid sitting across the table from the person you are negotiating with. When you sit directly across a table or a desk, you automatically put yourself in an adversarial position. The unconscious message is that the two of you are enemies and are about to “do battle” of some kind. Over the years, I have found that sitting at a round table with the other person or sitting kitty-corner are far better positions for achieving agreement.

Your Hands Convey a Message

Another negotiating factor, or suggestive influence in negotiating about body language, is the way you hold your hands and arms, and the way you move your body. For example, when you fold your arms, you appear to be closing yourself off to the arguments of the other person. You signal that you are rejecting or disagreeing with what the person is saying.

One of the universal symbols of openness, honesty, and sincerity is open hands. When you sit with your arms unfolded and your hands out, palms up, in a negotiation, you suggest that what you are saying is reasonable, acceptable, friendly, and poses no threat to the other person.
When you lean forward, pay close attention to the other party, focus on the person’s mouth when he’s speaking, and nod, you create a positive, warm impression of an interested and sincere person who genuinely wants to find an agreement that is acceptable to everyone involved.

Other Suggestive Elements

• Comfort. You are more likely to negotiate a better deal if your physical surroundings—the furniture, lighting, temperature—are comfortable.

• Rest or Fatigue. You are always more likely to negotiate effectively if you are welw-rested before you go into the discussion.

• Food, Hunger, and Thirst. When you eat well before starting a negotiation, your brain can function at its best. Likewise with hydration. The best brain foods are high in the protein of some kind. Avoid bread, bagels, bacon, sausage, or cooked meats, all of which will make you feel drowsy halfway through the morning. Negotiating after sharing a meal with the other party is also a powerful suggestive technique. Whenever we share a meal with another person, we almost always feel better about the other person and warmer toward that person. We like people more when we share something with them.

• Your Attitude. The final element of the power of suggestion in negotiating is your attitude. In a negotiation, a positive attitude—defined as a general cheerfulness and sense of optimism—is much more effective than a negative attitude in getting you the results that you want.

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