Negotiate Like a Savvy Politician
Have you ever observed politicians when they negotiate? You don’t think politicians negotiate? Everywhere I speak or train, on the subject of negotiation, I tell people, “You’re always negotiating.” As such, every time you give insight into your character, mental makeup, or thought process, you give insight into how you negotiate.
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Politicians are always trying to persuade people to do one thing or another. As such, they are negotiating. Good politicians, like good negotiators, are better at persuading people to see, adopt, and follow their point of view.
Observe the following similarities between a good politician and that of a good negotiator. See if you can enhance your negotiation skills by imitating some of the tactics politicians employ.
1. Politicians are very adroit at not answering questions that would put them in a ‘bad light’.
a. A good negotiator knows how to answer questions with questions, thus changing the direction of the conversation, while not divulging information that might be harmful to his position.
2. Politicians are very good at reframing a question or statement to position them in a more positive perspective (altering a question from its initial meaning to one that has a more positive perspective to the politician.)
a. A savvy negotiator is astutely aware of the inherit value of reshaping a conversation to lead in the direction she wishes to have the negotiation flow.
3. Politicians are adept at reading body language to give them insight into hidden meanings.
a. When a smart negotiator negotiates, she observes clues that give insight into what the person she’s negotiating with might be thinking. That insight gives her an additional advantage while negotiating, because she’s able to tap into unspoken words that could give more insight than that which is spoken.
4. Politicians know how to use a technique I call, ‘Block and Bridge’. ‘Block and Bridge’ occurs when acknowledgment is given to a question or point. In essence, the question you don’t want to answer is blocked, while using it as a bridge to a point you would like to discuss.
a. Like a politician, a good negotiator knows when and how to appease his negotiation partner. By giving a cursory response to the other negotiator’s point, the perception is given of having the point addressed. After that, a good negotiator shifts the conversation to the point he wishes to highlight. This is a very powerful tactic that good negotiators use time and time again. Try to use it in your negotiations and you’ll discover the value of this tactic.
5. Sometimes politicians talk ad nauseam (surprise, surprise).
a. When you negotiate, initially this may appear to be a ‘turn off’, but used in the right negotiation situation, this can be a tactic that wears the other negotiator down. Eventually, he becomes so desperate to escape the negotiation environment that he’ll agree to almost anything to be free. Note: You have to be cautious when using this tactic, because it can also turn someone off so much that they leave the negotiation environment without giving you what you want and refuse to negotiate with you again.
6. A smart politician develops a campaign strategy before he begins the campaign.
a. A smart negotiator develops a negotiation plan and gathers background information on the subject with whom he’ll be negotiating to get insightful information that will be helpful during the negotiation.
7. A good politician knows how to stay ‘on point’. She knows how to advance her cause and employs others to increase the overall potential of success.
a. A proficient negotiator, while developing her plan accounts for potential detours that she might encounter while negotiating. In so doing, she takes into account the maneuvers, strategies, and tactics she might have to utilize in order to reach the goal of the negotiation.
Watch politicians when they’re running for office, or being interviewed. The good ones know how to ‘spin’ situations to match their message and campaign platform. If they’re wrong, or proven to be on the wrong side of an issue, in some cases, they’re able to reshape, or reframe the discussion in order to enhance the acceptability of their position. In essence, they control every aspect of the negotiation, to the degree that they keep their constituents engaged. Mind you, the kind of negotiation they’re doing is that for the hearts and souls of those they lead. Nevertheless, they’re still negotiating.
You may not like the political process, or that which politicians engage in to ‘get things done’, but there are valuable negotiation lessons to be gleaned from observing how they go about doing so. If you add some of the tactics politicians use when negotiating, you will increase your negotiation skills and everything will be right with the world.
The Negotiation Lessons are …
• Never forgo the knowledge you can garner from someone that uses questionable negotiation tactics. At bare minimum, you can learn how to combat such tactics if someone tries to use them on you.
• Always pay very close attention to your environment when negotiating. By doing so, you’ll catch nonverbal nuances that will give you additional insight into what your negotiation partner may be thinking, but not disclosing.
• Never forget the value of a good negotiation plan. If you put in the effort to create a good plan, you’ll save yourself potential grief during the negotiation. You’ll also be better prepared to deal with unforeseen circumstances.