You may think that the most important thing in negotiations is talking – telling the other party what you want them to know. But a wise negotiator understands the importance of listening. When you listen, you can learn a great deal about the other party’s motivation and needs. Using these listening skills will help you be a more effective negotiator.
1. Use smart body language
When the other party is talking, keep a smile on your face and keep steady eye contact. This lets them know you are hearing what they are saying. By showing this, it encourages them to talk more, which will reveal more of what you need to know to negotiate.
2. Never interrupt
This is tough sometimes, but bite your tongue. If they say something you disagree with, there will be time to counter it later. You never want to interrupt them because they will read this as disrespect and that you aren’t interested in hearing their side of things.
3. Clarify points
When there’s a break in the conversation, go ahead and ask questions that will clarify points. You might say something like, “When you say ____ do you mean ___?” This will ensure you understand them and will demonstrate that you have been listening to them.
4. Agree whenever possible
Like clarifying points, agreeing with them by nodding your head when you agree with something shows them you are listening, not planning what you want to say next. This keeps the atmosphere friendly and encourages them to open up further.
5. Acknowledge the speaker
You can do this even when you do not necessarily agree with everything they have said. It’s still possible to pick a nugget of what they have said to acknowledge. When you do this, you demonstrate that you both have similar desires and want to reach a win-win. You might say something like, “I understand where you are coming from. Yet it’s been my experience that…”
6. Sum up their points
This is an effective way to ensure you understand what they’ve said and shows them that you have been paying careful attention to what they have been saying. Paraphrasing their ideas is one of the best ways to catch a misunderstanding that can then be cleared up quickly and immediately.
7. Listen more than you talk
This is a good suggestion for life in general. You will learn a great deal about the other person, their interests and their underlying desires – ones they might not be willing or able to share with you directly.
Armed with these 7 listening skills, you will have the advantage over your competition. Your clients will be impressed with your prowess and tell all their friends about it!