Your negotiation journey - part three: raise your awareness level

Updated: Sep 23, 2020

Constantin Papadopoulos is a freelance B2B marketing & sales consultant.

The following nine techniques/skills will improve the outcome of your negotiations. While these techniques are simple and effective, your negotiation success will come from applying them regularly. The best part of these techniques is that you can use them in your daily life. So let's review the third technique:

Raise your awareness level

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person's point of view - Henry Ford

Awareness levels?

What are awareness levels and why do they matter? Answering the former is easier than the latter. There are three types of awareness levels during any human interaction: (1) self-centered, (2) the counterpart(s), or (3) the environment. I've used in the past this graph to represent this perspective:

Why does it matter? In this series, we emphasize that negotiation is not about you. As Chris Voss puts it, "Negotiate in their world. [Persuasion] is about the other party convincing themselves that the solution you want is their own idea."

Which level when?

First level: the obvious time to be focused on yourself and your own ideas is during preparation. Preparing your polygon of interests and decision trees are typical phases that require introspection. While it is impossible not to be at this level during actual negotiation, I use techniques such as - silence - short sentences and questions to keep me out of it as much as possible. In an interaction, you should never spend more than one-third of the time in your own thoughts/speaking about yourself.

Second level: The focus shifts now to your counterpart. You listen and observe how they behave. Leveraging silence and calibrated questions to uncover their position and their perspective. You are diving into their world. Navigating in their world is an art. It is about making them feel comfortable revealing information. It takes empathy. Where it gets tricky, it's not about you interrogating, but rather you leading the way for them to uncover their pain. While on the second level you are opening the door for them to share what they really need from you. How much time should you spend in their world during an interaction? The answer is simple: as much as possible.

Third level: Observe the environment. While in the second level you are focusing on what your counterpart is communicating, the third level is about identifying all the clues that are not being outspoken. Observing the body language, the appearance of your counterpart, their reactions, etc. How much time should you invest in the observation level? Roughly twenty percent of your face-to-face (or zoom to zoom) time should be dedicated to the environment of your counterpart. Be subtle, take notes, and use questions to avoid the risk of talking too much.

In conclusion, we can now explain in a simple manner why the different awareness levels matter. Being aware of their existence and moving your awareness towards your counterpart or their environment will enable you to play the host of the negotiation and thus lead the discussion. Increasing your awareness level is a pre-requisiste to play the host. This leads us to the fourth part of your negotiation journey - being the host.

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