- Can the language of a negotiation prevent confrontation?
- Can a negotiation be a discussion without opposition?
- Can the parties in a negotiation establish a working dialogue?
- Can all parties in a negotiation come out with a gain?
The answer to all the above questions is YES! In fact the last question presents a critical feature of a successful negotiation: creating a “win-win” situation for all parties.
A negotiation needs to be a dialogue between all parties so that a compromise can be reached and each party gains some positive outcome. Language lies at the heart of a successful negotiation. Verbal language, the words and sentences to establish a dialogue without opposition, remains critical. Body language must support the verbal part of communication as well.
Dealing With Differing Viewpoints
It is inevitable that the parties in a negotiation will have different points of view. Objecting to the other side’s position needs to be respectful, while acknowledging that the other party represents a different set of ideas.
Using language that is conciliatory will minimize opposition. Phrases such as “from my perspective… I’m sorry, but… unfortunately…”
Negative verbal language will shut down a dialogue. Phrases such as “you’re wrong… that’s a lie/incorrect…” will not foster compromise, which is the goal of every successful negotiation.
Body language needs to support a respectful dialogue. A stiff, hands-crossed across body posture, grimacing or head shaking will contribute to confrontation, not dialogue.
Taking a Different Perspective
In a negotiation both parties should be able to explain their position and the reasons for their point of view. Understanding the other side’s perspective can prove highly valuable in fostering compromise. Words such as “I can see your point, but… let’s try to find a middle ground…” can reduce opposition. Remember the need for a “win-win” philosophy that underlies every successful negotiation.
Verbal statements that propose a middle ground can be framed as “if… then…” possibilities. Language promoting compromise creates a “give and take” attitude and the potential for a “win-win” solution.
Body language to support this compromise can be represented by open hands, palms cupped or turning upwards, indicating an inclusion of both sides in a resolution.
Confirming the Solution
If you’re successful in reaching a compromise — no one wins a negotiation — it’s important to verbally summarize and state the agreement that has been reached so there’s no misunderstanding later. In formal situations, a written form of the agreement will be documented either by one of the parties or an impartial third party. The handshake or some form of body language signals that the negotiation has concluded — and everyone has “won” in the process.
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