Should you be a tougher negotiator?

Take a moment and consider for yourself: what sort of a negotiator are you? Are you too tough? Or are you too soft?

Is there a right negotiating style?

In a lot of forums discussing and teaching negotiation I hear people recommending the soft style as being best: stay relaxed and calm, don’t be emotional, keep your cool.

ENSI’s experience demonstrates the best approach is to appreciate that there is no correct negotiating style. Rather, as part of overall strategy, we train negotiators to purposefully select the most appropriate style based on the specific influencing circumstances they are in and which will have the most useful impact on the outcome they want to achieve.

The most effective negotiation skill is to be intentionally style flexible.

There are times to be tough and times to be soft.

And as part of a carefully planned negotiation strategy, there are times when it is entirely appropriate to use a hard-line style.

However, over our lifetime we have all developed attitudes and beliefs that influence the way we behave and our intuitive approach to negotiation. These personal underlying beliefs mold our general negotiating mindset which in turn creates our instinctive reflex style: hard or soft. It is important that we understand this personal underlying style tendency and how it influences our approach to negotiation.

Often those whose tendency is more towards the soft-line style find it hard to be tough when the situation requires it. There will certainly be occasions in negotiation when a managed competitive or tough style is most appropriate. In fact, research suggests that appropriate expressions of anger and showing you can be tough and strong can be very beneficial.

Here are some practical suggestions to help achieve this.

8 Tips for enhancing Competitive Behavior

1. First be willing to be take the tough line and implement your style choice purposefully. Stay focused on your outcome. Know what you want.

2. Being tough doesn’t mean being rude. However do speak your mind without offering unnecessary explanations. Use clear I-statements and choose your words carefully. Be clear, concise and to the point.

3. Check to ensure you are not engaged in an unthinking, emotional, reactive response. To avoid being swept up by emotion, anticipate the most challenging things the other party might say and prepare how you might respond.

4. Monitor your tonality. You don’t need to be loud, but you do need to make yourself heard.

5. Maintain a confident demeanor. Face the other party keeping your shoulders squared and your chin up. Maintain eye contact and use strong gestures (taking care to observe cultural sensitivities).

6. Choose the setting. For example: at work, would the boardroom be a better venue than your office? At home, would the dining room be better than the bedroom?

7. Consider your appearance. How you look tells a lot about you. To be hard-line, dress a little more formally than might be expected for the context.

8. Be sensitive to the level of toughness you wish to convey. This takes practice. Rehearse what you are going to say and how you are going to say it, and have a colleague give you feedback. If you aren’t being tough enough, try it again.

So how tough the negotiator? Just tough enough!

To discuss this article in more depth and explore developing your negotiation capabilities, please contact us via email or call +612 9299 9688.

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ENS International (ENSI) provides negotiation consulting and training services helping people and organizations think and act differently to achieve more. 

Negotiators gain the edge using proven ENSI influencing processes incorporating commercial psychology with a deep understanding of human behaviour. ENSI delivers through Consulting Services and In-House or Open Course training. 

With over 60 Practitioners working within 75 countries we have a depth of experience across a diverse range of sectors.

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