• How to Negotiate and Influence People

    Adapted from the webinar, The Art and Science of Influencing Others, presented by Anne Converse Willkomm, Director of Graduate Studies.

    What is Negotiation?

    According to Dictionary.com, negotiation is defined as: The mutual discussion and arrangement of the terms of a transaction or agreement.

    Stages of Negotiation

    Negotiation can be broken down into three basic stages:

    • Preparation
    • Negotiation
    • Follow-Up

    Negotiation Preparation

    There are three elements to negotiation preparation:

    • Establish goals and desired outcomes
    • Identify the other party’s weaknesses
    • Develop your counter argument

    Establish Goals and Desired Outcomes of the Negotiation

    Glenn Curtis, an equity analyst and freelance financial writer recommends being optimistic when preparing to negotiate, to actually ask, “What would be a homerun in your deal?”

    Ultimately, you can’t enter any type of negotiation without:

    • Understanding what you want and need to seal the deal
    • Developing a few fallback plans to rely upon when making compromises

    Identify the Other Party’s Weaknesses

    Curtis also points out that it is imperative to understand your opponent’s weaknesses. This means thinking about the entire deal from your opponent’s perspective, figuring out their goals and what they have to lose in the deal. This may give you an edge to negotiate a better deal.

    Develop Your Counter Argument

    Curtis refers to this as a pre-negotiation exercise and notes that most deal makers don’t develop the counter argument. Making a list of at least five reasons why the opposing party will benefit from the negotiation, will give you power to negotiate better.

    Having the ability to point out the “wins” for both sides, gives you a winning advantage:

    • You look knowledgeable
    • You are framing the discussion with positivity

    Basic Steps in Negotiation

    • Dress the part
    • Know your facts – Keep it results-oriented
    • Take control of the meeting
    • Close the deal

    Dress the Part

    Neil Patel, considered by the Wall Street Journal to be one of the top influencers on the web, stated in an article in Forbes, “Your appearance is everything.”

    By his own admission, he is a shorts-and-t-shirt kind of guy, but he discovered that when he dresses well, he is able to close more deals. In fact, his close rate went from 25% to 40%.

    Dressing the part means:

    • For Women: a suit (pant or skirt), freshly pressed dress shirt, understated jewelry, and polished shoes
    • For Men: a suit, freshly pressed dress shirt, sharp tie, and polished shoes

    You don’t have to purchase your clothing at Neiman Marcus, like Patel suggests, but can also look for quality lower-priced clothing.

    Know Your Facts – Keep it Results-Oriented

    This harkens back to your preparation. Know the details of the deal, such as:

    • Whom you are negotiating with
    • Stakes for both parties
    • Understand the numbers, what they mean, and how they can be manipulated
    • Be able to quote facts and numbers during the negotiations versus having to look them up
    • Looking up information during the negotiation puts you at a disadvantage

    Rony Ross, the founder and executive chairman of Panorama Software recommends you keep the discussions focused on results. She also argues, “By taking the emphasis off the people involved and keeping it on the facts, the negotiation is less likely to become hostile...it is important that you don’t confuse yourself with the issue.”

    Take Control of the Meeting

    How to Negotiate and Influence People

    There are three basic ways to take control of the negotiations:

    • Be assertive and direct
    • Anchor the meeting by being the first to throw out a number
    • Be aware of the other party’s needs and weaknesses

    Being assertive does not always come easily to everyone. Patel believes that being able to speak up with conviction and to say what he is thinking – even the hard things, gains him instant respect:

    • “I’m assertive. If I want something, I’ll say it. Why hedge around?”
    • “If someone is rambling around or wasting time, I will cut them off.” He argues this is not rude, it is a courtesy to the group and helps keep everyone focused.

    Anchoring the meeting by being the first person to throw out a number immediately puts you in a leadership role because you are “starting the point for the negotiation,” says Patel.

    If you want to walk away with a low price, then throw out a lower number than you are hoping to walk away with – again, you can’t do this if you don’t understand your goals.

    What is the Difference Between Negotiation and Influence?

    What is Influence?

    According to Dictionary.com, negotiation is defined as: The action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc. of another or others.

    The word that pops out of that definition is effects.

    Negotiation is the act of coming to a mutual agreement, whereas influence occurs when an individual has an effect on his or her opponent during the act of negotiation.

    Dr. Jonas Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School and best-selling author of the book, Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior, says “99.9% of all of our decisions are influenced by others…but we don’t think that’s true.”

    He argues this type of invisible influence occurs because of our desire to fit in. But conversely, our desire to be unique also drives our behavior.

    At a recent conference, Dr. Berger demonstrated his point with the following examples:

    • In a meeting, most often we strive for consensus – even changing our mind to agree with the group.
    • When we purchase a car, however, and show it to our neighbor, who then goes out and purchases the same exact car – we get offended.

    The Science Behind Influencing Others

    There are two specific aspects where science gives us data:

    • Control: How do our brains respond to the act of negotiating and influencing others?
    • Cognition: What cognitive tools do we use when trying to influence others?

    The Science of Control

    A 2014 Entrepreneur article written by the CEO and founder of the productivity app Twoodo, digs into the science behind control.

    In moments when we feel we have lost control or we feel as if we are being attacked, our brains produce cortisol – stress hormone (also known as hydrocortisone). This leaves us feeling negative and unable to accurately evaluate the situation. Adrenaline is then released which further impacts our ability to empathize and makes it difficult to analyze the situation.

    In the same Entrepreneur article, Duvauchelle quotes Judith E. Glaser for the Harvard Business Review: “In situations of high stress, fear or distrust, the hormone and neurotransmitter cortisol floods the brain…So we default to one of four responses: fight (keep arguing the point), flight (revert to, and hide behind, group consensus), freeze (disengage from the argument by shutting up), or appease (make nice with your adversary by simply agreeing with him).”

    The Science of Cognition

    I’ve already pointed out how cortisol and adrenaline are produced in our brains when we feel a loss of control. In Duvauchelle’s article, he points out researchers have studied cognitive methods to employ to counteract the effects of the cortisol and the adrenaline.

    David Rock, of NeuroLeadership, subsequently developed SCARF, a brain-based model for influencing others, to help people understand the negative effects on the brain when these hormones are produced.

    SCARF refers to the following:

    • Status – our sense of importance relative to opponents
    • Certainty – our desire for security, to control responses
    • Autonomy – control of personal decisions
    • Relatedness – things in common; who do we consider as “in” our group
    • Fairness – equality; ethical considerations – a lack of favoritism

    When a negotiator is mindful of these five elements, they are better able to avoid triggering unwanted, emotional, responses.

    The Art of Influencing Others

    Management expert, Ken Blanchard, said, “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.”

    Because influence is about how you connect with someone, the words you choose, your tone of voice, knowing when to push, when to pull back, and when to be silent, requires an awareness of how your opponent is responding, and it requires a self-awareness.

    Strategies to Achieve the Art of Influence

    There are 6 general strategies:

    • Control your emotions
    • Be observant
    • Engage with body language
    • Regulate your voice, tone, and employ moments of silence
    • Establish a connection
    • Use language that fosters collaboration

    Control Your Emotions

    Alison Wood Brooks in a Harvard Business Review article entitled, “Emotion and the Art of Negotiation,” states, “Bringing anger to a negotiation is like throwing a bomb into the process, and it’s apt to have a profound effect on the outcome.”

    Successful negotiators have mastered the art of keeping their emotions in check: Fear, anger, anxiety, excitement, desire.

    Brooks cites research that found that anxiety had an enormous impact on the outcome of the negotiations. People who suffered anxiety during the negotiation consistently negotiated deals that were 12% less financially attractive than those negotiated by the neutral group.

    If you show your hand and let your opponent know you aren’t willing to walk away, you must seal the deal – you have put yourself at a disadvantage because your opponent will offer less sensing you are desperate.

    Be Observant

    You can’t manage your counterpart’s emotions if you aren’t aware of them.

    Therefore, observe your opponent’s body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. Watch for inconsistencies - does the message match what is being said? If not, dig deeper:

    • Ask questions
    • Demonstrate that you want to understand your opponent’s concerns or position
    • Pointed Questions
    • Slow things down
    • Reconnect with your opponent

    Engage with Body Language

    Rony Ross is quoted in Forbes, “with my words, eyes, and body language, it’s all about engagement.”

    Ross has observed negotiators leaning back in their chairs, perhaps to look “comfortable,” when they are actually creating a physical distance between themselves and the person(s) they are trying to influence. She argues that people wanting to influence others should sit on the edge of their seat and lean into the conversation.

    Voice, Tone, and Silence

    This requires a degree of self-awareness – regulate your tone of voice, keep it steady, strong, but not overbearing. Ensure your tone is optimistic, but also reflects the current status of the negotiation.

    Silence is tough. Silence sparks anxiety in almost everyone. The use of silence can be an effective way to influence others. By employing silence, you can take control of the meeting, let the uncomfortable opponent speak – you may get more or different, relevant information.

    Establish a Connection

    A key concept for negotiators is to develop a connection with their counterparts. The best way to do this is to remember the person sitting across the table is, in fact, a real person, not “the company.”

    Set aside the idea of the person across the table as an adversary, instead view them as someone you will collaborate with to accomplish a task – creating an agreement both sides value.

    Use Language That Fosters Collaboration

    Avoid “I” statements – “We” statements signal you are willing to collaborate to reach a win/win.

    Remember the power of words:

    • Do not begin sentences with a verb, such as “Is this all…” or “Are you certain…” Instead begin sentences with: How, Who, What, When, Where, Why.
    • Use language that is aligned with your intent. Don’t use ambiguous words when you intend to convey specificity.

    Ambiguous Words

    Definitive Words

















    Closing the Deal

    Manage your emotions:

    • Disappointment: You always have the option of walking away or taking a break to continue the negotiations, but if you have shaken hands and you are disappointed – don’t let it show.
    • Excitement: No one likes a sore winner! Do not gloat, be gracious and respectful – you never know when you will face your opponent again.

    Final Thoughts

    The key to successfully influencing others is to be self-aware. Understand how you interact with those around you and learn to control your emotions and reactions to others.

    The ability to influence others is truly both art and science. It is also something that is learned and must be practiced.