1 Critical Negotiation Skill No Business English Book Will Teach You.
What goes through your mind before entering a negotiation meeting in English?
Let me guess.
➤ “I truly hope I manage to persuade the other side to accept our terms. I really need this deal to succeed.”
➤ “This is my chance to impress my boss and demonstrate my competence. I can’t mess this up.”
➤ “Oh, I do hope the other side can understand me, what with my accent and ‘bad’ grammar.”
➤ “ I am prepared, but what if I get so nervous and can’t find the right words to state my case?”
➤ “What if I am not convincing enough because of my ‘bad’ English?”
Even If You’re Textbook Ready…
➤ You still feel like a fraud.
➤ You’ve learned your rules, but you forget them.
➤ Your vocabulary isn’t as impressive as it should be.
➤ And that promise you gave yourself to read the Financial Times every night? Well, not there.
You walk in already feeling bad about yourself.
The result? No deal.
Why didn’t it work out?
➤ Was it because of your grammar or pronunciation?
➤ Perhaps you forgot the right words and used something else?
➤ What if you weren’t clear with your sentences?
Well, you’ll never know.
But what I want you to know is that none of the reasons you feel bad about is the real reason behind a failed negotiation.
“Your grammar, accent, pronunciation or limited vocabulary is NOT the real reason behind a failed negotiation.”Click To Tweet
How do you feel now? Relieved?
Here’s what you should worry about before you feel guilty about your inadequate grammar.
The #1 skill you should focus on is listening….
But not ANY kind of listening.
What comes to mind when you think about listening in English?
➤ Is it those dictation exercises you were given in English class?
➤ Is it those endless listening activities followed by a gap fill exercise?
We’re told listening is an important skill in business because:
➤ It shows your interest and concern for the other person.
➤ It allows you to arrive at a shared and agreed understanding.
➤ It allows you to gain a full and accurate picture of the other person’s views and ideas
➤ It allows you to forge strong relationships with your co-workers and customers.
➤ It allows you to build strong teams.
➤ It leads to greater creativity.
➤ It leads to strong leadership.
But not ALL listening is helpful.
The 1 Type of Listening You Want To Master (And How To Do It)
In his bestselling book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey states that most of us listen at one of 4 levels:
#Level 1: Ignore the person – not listening at all
#Level 2: Pretend to listen – “Uh-huh. Right”
#Level 3: Selectively listen – hearing only parts of a conversation
#Level 4: Attentively listen – paying attention to certain words and expressions
However, we often ignore #Level 5 of listening: empathic listening.
Stephen Covey says empathic listening allows you to get inside another person’s perspective.
It allows you to:
➤ See the way they see the world;
➤ Understand what motivates them;
➤ Understand how they feel;
➤ Disagree with them, but at the same time fully and deeply understand them.
Empathic listening builds connections the way your C-1 level English never will because:
➤ It gives you accurate data to work with because you’re listening to understand them;
➤ It allows you to start working effectively and more meaningfully with them;
➤ Once you truly understand their perspective, you can start to gently exert your influence.
What Do You Do During A Negotiation Meeting?
➤ How do you listen? Are you listening to understand?
➤ Or are you thinking of your accent or of the next word/phrase you’ll use?
➤ Or do you catch yourself focusing on what and how the person says things instead of trying to understand?
➤ Are you listening out for non-verbal cues or are you too focused on your own body language?
Let’s stop this. Stop worrying about what you just said or what you’ll say.
Instead, do this…
Start practising empathic listening NOW.
➤ Think of an ongoing negotiation you’re involved with which is proving difficult for you at the moment.
➤ Before your next meeting, think about what you can do to prepare to listen empathically
➤ Try to understand what the problems are and write down the situation from the other person’s point of view>> What are their objections?>> What are they worried about?>> How do they feel about the situation? >>Why do they feel like that?>> Can you recall the words they’ve used >> How about their body language – has it been defensive?
➤ When you ’re next in the meeting with them, listen to understand >>Take the notes you prepared with you>>Observe their non-verbal cues like frustration in the voice, clenched fists, etc.>> Listen to the words and expressions they use >>Compare what you are hearing with what you wrote down.
➤ After the meeting, take some time to reflect on what you discovered >>How valid were your assumptions? >>Did you really understand that individual’s perspective?>> Has what you’ve learned given you more clarity of the issues? >> Has it made it easier for you to know what to do next?
When we really, deeply understand each other, we open the door to creative solutions.
Our differences are no longer barriers to communication. Instead, as Covey says, “they’re stepping stones to synergy.”
In the next post, we’ll look at another essential skill that helps people win deals – asking questions.
After all, listening to understand first is useless if you don’t ask good questions to begin with.
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