It’s common to wish you could read the other party’s mind when you’re negotiating. Understanding the social and nonverbal cues of the person is the next best thing and is the key to better understanding their perspective and sealing the deal.
Joan Pastor, president of JPA International, gave a talk at the recent AICPA Not-for-Profit Industry Conference in Washington, D.C. In her session called “So Who is Afraid of a Little Conflict,” Pastor addresses nonverbal and social cues that could go unnoticed in negotiation that could help managers better understand the person they are addressing. They include:
- Review the objective information upon which the negotiations are based;
- Determine the power base that you and the other person value and use in negotiation. While you may value a higher position of authority or greater knowledge in the subject at hand, the person on the other side of the table may place greater value on charisma or the power of association. Think how you can best appeal to their values;
- Prepare your argument to best suit your audience. Managers not in audit, finance, or risk often prefer a positive argument that presents yourself and your client in the best possible light. In a glass-is-half-full argument, attempt to give different options rather than making one specific demand;
- Remember that anything that is the result of negotiation can be renegotiated; and,
- Through nonverbal cues, a truthful subject might reveal that they have nothing to hide. Some signs of this include responding with a quick, direct answer or showing anger rather than asking for permission to speak. However, potential cultural differences must also be accounted for in looking for nonverbal cues, as they are not conclusive evidence but rather allow you to “feel out” another person.