Your negotiation journey – part four

Whether you sit at the negotiation table or you are preparing your next negotiation, there is one attitude, one mindset that will make all the difference. Since I’ve been applying and coaching it, the negotiations feel smoother, I am less in a position of need, and frankly, the results are simply better. The origin of this attitude in the literature is disputed. Whether the Russians or Americans reported it first does not really matter. The attitude matters. Play the host and you will be better. Always. 

Hosting a crucial negotiation technique

Igor Ryzov, whose resources have a great influence on our nine-part series, describes precisely what hosting a negotiation means. Here is why it is so important to be the one who is listening: 

“The first roles assigned in any negotiation are those of the “host” and the “the guest”. The “host” is the one who asks questions; the “guest” is the one who answers them. The negotiator listens. Then they ask questions. In doing so, they can steer the conversation as their own interest dictates. Negotiators who find themselves listened to and asked questions will often take the bait and talk more; offer more.”

Can I really play the host?

You might be asking: Well how can I play the host when I’m the one asking for someone’s time, money, network, customer base etc. The key to remember here is that you are not asking the other side for a favor.  We are in the business of delivering value to our customers, to our partners, and to society as a whole. The perceived value you bring to the table is the reason why the other party is even willing to sit at the negotiation table with you. They perceive value from talking to you, so don’t disappoint them and don’t sell yourself short! 

How to know if you are the host 

You are in control of the time – if your counterpart has no time for you, reschedule,  even if you traveled. Your time has value. Own it!

You have shielded yourself from need and fear – you are coming to the negotiation table with an open mind. It is OK if your counterpart does not need your service or product at your price level. 

You are patient and listening – you are talking calmly and not rushing the conversation. You listen to what your counterpart has to say. They are carrying valuable information with them. 

Your counterpart is revealing information, not you. Take your time while distilling information. Before conceding additional value, you ask for a counter-offer. 

How to be the host

Be confident and believe your cause – remember your value and stand by it

Adopt a comfortable position –  remember that comfortable does not equal overconfident 

Be polite – a true host remains calm and polite in all situations, especially when it gets heated

Ask questions – questioning techniques shift the focus to your counterpart

Take time in answering questions – do not rush and ask for additional time  if you are uncertain 

Stay in control of what you’re saying – as the old saying goes: it’s better to be the master of one’s silence, than a prisoner of one’s words 

Remember that becoming the host is also part of the negotiation, not an inherent position. It is crucial that you establish the position as early as possible. If you feel you’re being asked more questions than strictly necessary, know that with every question asked you are being drawn further from your goal. Break this chain and seize back the initiative through counter-questions. After answering a question, always ask your opponent a counter-question.

When the negotiators spend too much time answering questions, not only are they giving information away but most importantly as they are focused on the first awareness level, and Black Swans* missed. Do you understand now, why job interviews are scripted by the employer and not the candidate? Now that you know why being the host is so crucial, get ready to start with no!

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About the author

Constantin Papadopoulos is a senior marketing & sales consultant. He builds bridges between services & products and their respective audience. He is also a communication & negotiation trainer for the Swiss Army.

*Black swans are key information that helps unlock negotiation.