The Personality of Negotiation: Don't Buy the Bravado

When you consider your last negotiation, did you come from a position of strength or weakness and how did your tone, mannerisms and body language either support you or give you away?
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Many people dread having to negotiate, partly because they are not sure how to act and respond. What I've found is that negotiation is simply a form of communication of wants and needs. If only approximately 7% of any communication is the actual words that come out of our mouth, I think we need to look at that remaining 93% very carefully if we want to be effective communicators.

When I reference communication, I'm looking at it from the perspective of negotiation, because each of us is seeking personal gain every day. As a perpetual student in the field of negotiation, I've realized an all-important facet of the negotiation process that can either undermine your confidence to pursue a negotiation to its completion or use it as a "tell" to more easily conquer the day.

Any negotiation has a personality based on its participants. If one side is overly aggressive or passive, it affects the balance of the negotiation and its associated tone, which can, in many cases, affect the outcome. When we consider that tone of voice, mannerisms and body language define the vast majority of the "messaging" of a communication, we must look at how we are presenting ourselves and more importantly, how our counterpart is presenting themselves, as there is tremendous advantage that may be gained.

As I mentioned earlier, for the most part, people don't like to negotiate for themselves. Whether it is fear of rejection or of being made the fool, most of us would rather maintain order and deflect. However, should you wish to steel up your nerve, I have a simple suggestion that may assist you mightily, whatever the quest.

Look beyond the personality of the person you are dealing with to get to the root of what they want and need, relative to what you have to offer. Too often, we allow the bravado or ego-positioned postures that can come when someone asks you for something to manipulate our balance and our comprehension that, underneath their bluster, they actually want something we have.

The tendency, when approached by someone with an overt and often feigned overconfidence is to question our own stature. Sometimes we can allow that "push" to shake our perspective, power and value.

Why allow anyone to affect you with their personality when underneath it, there is a baseline need? It will take some practice, but consider the next time someone presents their 93%, consider the 7% of what they are saying and focus on the words not the style in which they are being said. And just like the best way through a bully is via their nose, oftentimes, the best way to positively affect the outcome in your favor is simply to duck under the personality as you would an oncoming punch and get to the essence of the communication. And that is, "What do you want that I have and what are you willing to give me for it"?

Overly aggressive, ego-driven communications are simply a style of negotiation and candidly, become the "tell" as to an underlying, weaker position that is trying to be covered. Pure confidence has a much different face and is often presented with far more effectiveness. We know when we are presented with someone who has that air of ease and effortlessness and it is in those moments, that we need to take sincere notice for that presentation has both value and gravitas behind it.

The next time you are faced with an agitated or aggressive personality type negotiation, there is no need to "buy" into it. Consider that the façade is probably not consistent with the underlying communication and from a negotiator's perspective, may be the most telling aspect that you can use to work in your ultimate favor.

When you consider your last negotiation, did you come from a position of strength or weakness and how did your tone, mannerisms and body language either support you or give you away?

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