2. Our techniques were the products of experiential learning; they were developed by agents in the field, negotiating through crisis and sharing stories of what succeeded and what failed.
3. It all starts with the universally applicable premise that people want to be understood and accepted. Listening is the cheapest, yet most effective concession we can make to get there. By listening intensely, a negotiator demonstrates empathy and shows a sincere desire to better understand what the other side is experiencing.
4. Psychotherapy research shows that when individuals feel listened to, they tend to listen to themselves more carefully and to openly evaluate and clarify their own thoughts and feelings. In addition, they tend to become less defensive and oppositional and more willing to listen to other points of view, which gets them to the calm and logical place where they can be good Getting to Yes problem solvers.
5. The whole concept, which you’ll learn as the centerpiece of this book, is called Tactical Empathy. This is listening as a martial art, balancing the subtle behaviors of emotional intelligence and the assertive skills of influence, to gain access to the mind of another person.
6. Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions—information gathering and behavior influencing—and includes almost any interaction where each party wants something from the other side.
7. Remember, a hostage negotiator plays a unique role: he has to win. Can he say to a bank robber, “Okay, you’ve taken four hostages. Let’s split the difference—give me two, and we’ll call it a day?” No. A successful hostage negotiator has to get everything he asks for, without giving anything back of substance, and do so in a way that leaves the adversaries feeling as if they have a great relationship. His work is emotional intelligence on steroids. Those are the tools you’ll learn here.
8. Each chapter expands on the previous one. First you’ll learn the refined techniques of this approach to Active Listening and then you’ll move on to specific tools, turns of phrase, the ins and outs of the final act—haggling—and, finally, how to discover the rarity that can help you achieve true negotiating greatness: the Black Swan.
9. I hadn’t yet learned to be aware of a counterpart’s overuse of personal pronouns—we/they or me/I. The less important he makes himself, the more important he probably is (and vice versa).
10. There’s one powerful way to quiet the voice in your head and the voice in their head at the same time: treat two schizophrenics with just one pill. Instead of prioritizing your argument—in fact, instead of doing any thinking at all in the early goings about what you’re going to say—make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.
11. The goal is to identify what your counterparts actually need (monetarily, emotionally, or otherwise) and get them feeling safe enough to talk and talk and talk some more about what they want.
12. The latter will help you discover the former. Wants are easy to talk about, representing the aspiration of getting our way, and sustaining any illusion of control we have as we begin to negotiate; needs imply survival, the very minimum required to make us act, and so make us vulnerable.
13. But neither wants nor needs are where we start; it begins with listening, making it about the other people, validating their emotions, and creating enough trust and safety for a real conversation to begin.
14. There’s plenty of research that now validates the passage of time as one of the most important tools for a negotiator. When you slow the process down, you also calm it down. After all, if someone is talking, they’re not shooting.
15. That’s why your most powerful tool in any verbal communication is your voice. You can use your voice to intentionally reach into someone’s brain and flip an emotional switch. Distrusting to trusting. Nervous to calm. In an instant, the switch will flip just like that with the right delivery.
16. There are essentially three voice tones available to negotiators: the late-night FM DJ voice, the positive/playful voice, and the direct or assertive voice.
17. Most of the time, you should be using the positive/playful voice. It’s the voice of an easygoing, good-natured person. Your attitude is light and encouraging. The key here is to relax and smile while you’re talking. A smile, even while talking on the phone, has an impact tonally that the other person will pick up on.
18. When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve (instead of fight and resist).
19. The way the late-night FM DJ voice works is that, when you inflect your voice in a downward way, you put it out there that you’ve got it covered. Talking slowly and clearly you convey one idea: I’m in control. When you inflect in an upward way, you invite a response. Why? Because you’ve brought in a measure of uncertainty. You’ve made a statement sound like a question.
20. Mirroring, also called isopraxism, is essentially imitation. It’s another neurobehavior humans (and other animals) display in which we copy each other to comfort each other.
21. While mirroring is most often associated with forms of nonverbal communication, especially body language, as negotiators a “mirror” focuses on the words and nothing else.
22. It’s almost laughably simple: for the FBI, a “mirror” is when you repeat the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said. Of the entirety of the FBI’s hostage negotiation skill set, mirroring is the closest one gets to a Jedi mind trick. Simple, and yet uncannily effective.
23. Psychologist Richard Wiseman created a study using waiters to identify what was the more effective method of creating a connection with strangers: mirroring or positive reinforcement. One group of waiters, using positive reinforcement, lavished praise and encouragement on patrons using words such as “great,” “no problem,” and “sure” in response to each order. The other group of waiters mirrored their customers simply by repeating their orders back to them. The results were stunning: the average tip of the waiters who mirrored was 70 percent more than of those who used positive reinforcement.
24. Which is why when you think of the greatest negotiators of all time, I’ve got a surprise for you—think Oprah Winfrey.
25. Her daily television show was a case study of a master practitioner at work: on a stage face-to-face with someone she has never met, in front of a crowded studio of hundreds, with millions more watching from home, and a task to persuade that person in front of her, sometimes against his or her own best interests, to talk and talk and keep talking, ultimately sharing with the world deep, dark secrets that they had held hostage in their own minds for a lifetime.
26. A good negotiator prepares, going in, to be ready for possible surprises; a great negotiator aims to use her skills to reveal the surprises she is certain to find.
27. Don’t commit to assumptions; instead, view them as hypotheses and use the negotiation to test them rigorously.
28. People who view negotiation as a battle of arguments become overwhelmed by the voices in their head. Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.
29. Put a smile on your face. When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve (instead of fight and resist). Positivity creates mental agility in both you and your counterpart.
30. Tactical empathy is understanding the feelings and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow. It’s bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done.
31. Empathy is a classic “soft” communication skill, but it has a physical basis. When we closely observe a person’s face, gestures, and tone of voice, our brain begins to align with theirs in a process called neural resonance, and that lets us know more fully what they think and feel.
32. We employed our tactical empathy by recognizing and then verbalizing the predictable emotions of the situation. We didn’t just put ourselves in the fugitives’ shoes. We spotted their feelings, turned them into words, and then very calmly and respectfully repeated their emotions back to them. In a negotiation, that’s called labeling.
33. It gets you close to someone without asking about external factors you know nothing about (“How’s your family?”). Think of labeling as a shortcut to intimacy, a time-saving emotional hack.
34. In one brain imaging study,2 psychology professor Matthew Lieberman of the University of California, Los Angeles, found that when people are shown photos of faces expressing strong emotion, the brain shows greater activity in the amygdala, the part that generates fear. But when they are asked to label the emotion, the activity moves to the areas that govern rational thinking. In other words, labeling an emotion—applying rational words to a fear—disrupts its raw intensity.
35. The first step to labeling is detecting the other person’s emotional state. Outside that door in Harlem we couldn’t even see the fugitives, but most of the time you’ll have a wealth of information from the other person’s words, tone, and body language. We call that trinity “words, music, and dance.”
36. Once you’ve spotted an emotion you want to highlight, the next step is to label it aloud. Labels can be phrased as statements or questions.
37. But no matter how they end, labels almost always begin with roughly the same words:
It seems like …
It sounds like …
It looks like …
38. The last rule of labeling is silence. Once you’ve thrown out a label, be quiet and listen. We all have a tendency to expand on what we’ve said, to finish, “It seems like you like the way that shirt looks,” with a specific question like “Where did you get it?” But a label’s power is that it invites the other person to reveal himself.
39. Labeling is a tactic, not a strategy, in the same way a spoon is a great tool for stirring soup but it’s not a recipe. How you use labeling will go a long way in determining your success.
40. What good negotiators do when labeling is address those underlying emotions. Labeling negatives diffuses them (or defuses them, in extreme cases); labeling positives reinforces them.
41. Try this the next time you have to apologize for a bone-headed mistake. Go right at it. The fastest and most efficient means of establishing a quick working relationship is to acknowledge the negative and diffuse it.
42. Research shows that the best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgment. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution-based thoughts.
43. In court, defense lawyers do this properly by mentioning everything their client is accused of, and all the weaknesses of their case, in the opening statement. They call this technique “taking the sting out.”
44. The first step of doing so is listing every terrible thing your counterpart could say about you, in what I call an accusation audit.
45. And no communication is always a bad sign.
46. Human connection is the first goal.
47. We have it backward. For good negotiators, “No” is pure gold. That negative provides a great opportunity for you and the other party to clarify what you really want by eliminating what you don’t want. “No”
48. “Yes” and “Maybe” are often worthless. But “No” always alters the conversation.
49. While assigned to the JTTF, I worked with an NYPD lieutenant named Martin. He had a hard shell, and whenever asked for anything he responded with a terse negative. After I’d gotten to know him a bit, I asked him why. “Chris,” he said, proudly, “a lieutenant’s job is to say, ‘No.’” At first, I thought that sort of automated response signaled a failure of imagination. But then I realized I did the same thing with my teenage son, and that after I’d said “No” to him, I often found that I was open to hearing what he had to say. That’s because having protected myself, I could relax and more easily consider the possibilities.
50. This means you have to train yourself to hear “No” as something other than rejection, and respond accordingly. When someone tells you “No,” you need to rethink the word in one of its alternative—and much more real—meanings:
- I am not yet ready to agree;
- You are making me feel uncomfortable;
- I do not understand;
- I don’t think
- I can afford it;
- I want something else;
- I need more information;
- or I want to talk it over with someone else.
51. We need to persuade from their perspective, not ours. But how? By starting with their most basic wants.
52. In every negotiation, in every agreement, the result comes from someone else’s decision. And sadly, if we believe that we can control or manage others’ decisions with compromise and logic, we’re leaving millions on the table.
53. But while we can’t control others’ decisions, we can influence them by inhabiting their world and seeing and hearing exactly what they want.
54. Though the intensity may differ from person to person, you can be sure that everyone you meet is driven by two primal urges: the need to feel safe and secure, and the need to feel in control. If you satisfy those drives, you’re in the door.
55. “No” starts conversations and creates safe havens to get to the final “Yes” of commitment. An early “Yes” is often just a cheap, counterfeit dodge.
56. Gun for a “Yes” straight off the bat, though, and your counterpart gets defensive, wary, and skittish. That’s why I tell my students that, if you’re trying to sell something, don’t start with “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” Instead ask, “Is now a bad time to talk?” Either you get “Yes, it is a bad time” followed by a good time or a request to go away, or you get “No, it’s not” and total focus.
57. “No” is not failure. Used strategically it’s an answer that opens the path forward. Getting to the point where you’re no longer horrified by the word “No” is a liberating moment that every negotiator needs to reach. Because if your biggest fear is “No,” you can’t negotiate. You’re the hostage of “Yes.” You’re handcuffed. You’re done.
58. In fact, “No” often opens the discussion up. The sooner you say “No,” the sooner you’re willing to see options and opportunities that you were blind to previously. Saying “No” often spurs people to action because they feel they’ve protected themselves and now see an opportunity slipping away..
59. There is a big difference between making your counterpart feel that they can say “No” and actually getting them to say it. Sometimes, if you’re talking to somebody who is just not listening, the only way you can crack their cranium is to antagonize them into “No.”
60. One great way to do this is to mislabel one of the other party’s emotions or desires. You say something that you know is totally wrong, like “So it seems that you really are eager to leave your job” when they clearly want to stay. That forces them to listen and makes them comfortable correcting you by saying, “No, that’s not it. This is it.”
61. Another way to force “No” in a negotiation is to ask the other party what they don’t want. “Let’s talk about what you would say ‘No’ to,” you’d say. And people are comfortable saying “No” here because it feels like self-protection. And once you’ve gotten them to say “No,” people are much more open to moving forward toward new options and ideas.
62. “No”—or the lack thereof—also serves as a warning, the canary in the coal mine. If despite all your efforts, the other party won’t say “No,” you’re dealing with people who are indecisive or confused or who have a hidden agenda. In cases like that you have to end the negotiation and walk away.
63. You provoke a “No” with this one-sentence email. Have you given up on this project?
64. “That’s right” is better than “yes.” Strive for it. Reaching “that’s right” in a negotiation creates breakthroughs.
65. Use a summary to trigger a “that’s right.” The building blocks of a good summary are a label combined with paraphrasing. Identify, rearticulate, and emotionally affirm “the world according to …”
66. There’s always leverage. Negotiation is never a linear formula: add X to Y to get Z. We all have irrational blind spots, hidden needs, and undeveloped notions.
67. Once you understand that subterranean world of unspoken needs and thoughts, you’ll discover a universe of variables that can be leveraged to change your counterpart’s needs and expectations. From using some people’s fear of deadlines and the mysterious power of odd numbers, to our misunderstood relationship to fairness, there are always ways to bend our counterpart’s reality so it conforms to what we ultimately want to give them, not to what they initially think they deserve.
68. Compromise—“splitting the difference”—can lead to terrible outcomes. Compromise is often a “bad deal” and a key theme we’ll hit in this chapter is that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
69. I’m here to call bullshit on compromise right now. We don’t compromise because it’s right; we compromise because it is easy and because it saves face. We compromise in order to say that at least we got half the pie. Distilled to its essence, we compromise to be safe. Most people in a negotiation are driven by fear or by the desire to avoid pain. Too few are driven by their actual goals.
70. So don’t settle and—here’s a simple rule—never split the difference.
71. Time is one of the most crucial variables in any negotiation. The simple passing of time and its sharper cousin, the deadline, are the screw that pressures every deal to a conclusion.
72. Whether your deadline is real and absolute or merely a line in the sand, it can trick you into believing that doing a deal now is more important than getting a good deal. Deadlines regularly make people say and do impulsive things that are against their best interests, because we all have a natural tendency to rush as a deadline approaches.
73. What good negotiators do is force themselves to resist this urge and take advantage of it in others. It’s not so easy. Ask yourself: What is it about a deadline that causes pressure and anxiety? The answer is consequences; the perception of the loss we’ll incur in the future—“The deal is off!” our mind screams at us in some imaginary future scenario—should no resolution be achieved by a certain point in time.
73. Deadlines are often arbitrary, almost always flexible, and hardly ever trigger the consequences we think—or are told—they will.
74. “No deal is better than a bad deal.”
75. In fact, Don A. Moore, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, says that hiding a deadline actually puts the negotiator in the worst possible position. In his research, he’s found that hiding your deadlines dramatically increases the risk of an impasse.
76. The most powerful word in negotiations is “Fair.” As human beings, we’re mightily swayed by how much we feel we have been respected. People comply with agreements if they feel they’ve been treated fairly and lash out if they don’t.
77. If you can get the other party to reveal their problems, pain, and unmet objectives—if you can get at what people are really buying—then you can sell them a vision of their problem that leaves your proposal as the perfect solution.
78. The theory argues that people are drawn to sure things over probabilities, even when the probability is a better choice. That’s called the Certainty Effect. And people will take greater risks to avoid losses than to achieve gains. That’s called Loss Aversion.
79. The chance for loss incites more risk than the possibility of an equal gain.
80. To get real leverage, you have to persuade them that they have something concrete to lose if the deal falls through.
81. That gets your point across without moving the other party into a defensive position. And it gets him thinking at higher levels. Research shows that people who hear extreme anchors unconsciously adjust their expectations in the direction of the opening number. Many even go directly to their price limit. If Jerry had given this range, the firm probably would have offered $130,000 because it looked so cheap next to $170,000.
82. The biggest thing to remember is that numbers that end in 0 inevitably feel like temporary placeholders, guesstimates that you can easily be negotiated But anything you throw out that sounds less rounded—say, $37,263—feels like a figure that you came to as a result of thoughtful calculation. Such numbers feel serious and permanent to your counterpart, so use them to fortify your offers.
83. Our job as persuaders is easier than we think. It’s not to get others believing what we say. It’s just to stop them unbelieving. Once we achieve that, the game’s half-won. “Unbelief is the friction that keeps persuasion in check,” Dutton says. “Without it, there’d be no limits.”
84. First off, calibrated questions avoid verbs or words like “can,” “is,” “are,” “do,” or “does.” These are closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no.” Instead, they start with a list of words people know as reporter’s questions: “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how.”
85. Having just two words to start with might not seem like a lot of ammunition, but trust me, you can use “what” and “how” to calibrate nearly any question. “Does this look like something you would like?” can become “How does this look to you?” or “What about this works for you?” You can even ask, “What about this doesn’t work for you?” and you’ll probably trigger quite a bit of useful information from your counterpart.
86. Here are some other great standbys that I use in almost every negotiation, depending on the situation:
- What about this is important to you?
- How can I help to make this better for us?
- How would you like me to proceed?
- What is it that brought us into this situation?
- How can we solve this problem?
- What’s the objective? / What are we trying to accomplish here?
- How am I supposed to do that?
87.The script we came up with hit all the best practices of negotiation we’ve talked about so far. Here it is by steps:
- A “No”-oriented email question to reinitiate contact: “Have you given up on settling this amicably?”
- A statement that leaves only the answer of “That’s right” to form a dynamic of agreement: “It seems that you feel my bill is not justified.”
- Calibrated questions about the problem to get him to reveal his thinking: “How does this bill violate our agreement?”
- More “No”-oriented questions to remove unspoken barriers: “Are you saying I misled you?” “Are you saying I didn’t do as you asked?” “Are you saying I reneged on our agreement?” or “Are you saying I failed you?”
- Labeling and mirroring the essence of his answers if they are not acceptable so he has to consider them again: “It seems like you feel my work was subpar.” Or “… my work was subpar?”
- A calibrated question in reply to any offer other than full payment, in order to get him to offer a solution: “How am I supposed to accept that?”
- If none of this gets an offer of full payment, a label that flatters his sense of control and power: “It seems like you are the type of person who prides himself on the way he does business—rightfully so—and has a knack for not only expanding the pie but making the ship run more efficiently.”
- A long pause and then one more “No”-oriented question: “Do you want to be known as someone who doesn’t fulfill agreements?”
88. From my long experience in negotiation, scripts like this have a 90 percent success rate. That is, if the negotiator stays calm and rational. And that’s a big if.
89. In a study of the components of lying,2 Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra and his coauthors found that, on average, liars use more words than truth tellers and use far more third-person pronouns. They start talking about him, her, it, one, they, and their rather than I, in order to put some distance between themselves and the lie. And they discovered that liars tend to speak in more complex sentences in an attempt to win over their suspicious counterparts. It’s what W. C. Fields meant when he talked about baffling someone with bullshit. The researchers dubbed this the Pinocchio Effect because, just like Pinocchio’s nose, the number of words grew along with the lie. People who are lying are, understandably, more worried about being believed, so they work harder—too hard, as it were—at being believable.
90. Any response that’s not an outright rejection of your offer means you have the edge.
91. Experienced negotiators often lead with a ridiculous offer, an extreme anchor. And if you’re not prepared to handle it, you’ll lose your moorings and immediately go to your maximum.
92. The Ackerman model is an offer-counteroffer method, at least on the surface. But it is a very effective system for beating the usual lackluster bargaining bargaining dynamic, which has the predictable result of meeting in the middle. The systematized and easy-to-remember process has only four steps:
- Set your target price (your goal).
- Set your first offer at 65 percent of your target price.
- Calculate three raises of decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent).
- Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “No” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer.
- When calculating the final amount, use precise, nonround numbers like, say, $37,893 rather than $38,000. It gives the number credibility and weight.
- On your final number, throw in a nonmonetary item (that they probably don’t want) to show you’re at your limit.