Sunday 13 January 2013

Persuasion Skills Leading to Negotiation.

The ability to persuade people to change their behaviour and to move towards our own goal is one of the life’s critical skills. In our professional life we may be seeking to persuade our boss, colleagues, business suppliers, or customers. Although some people are naturally better persuaders then others, the persuasion is a skill which to a large extent can be learned.
Persuasion is the influence of beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviours. Success in influencing and persuading comes from understanding and reacting appropriately. By utilising appropriate communication styles and building rapport, we can learn how to deal with difficult situations or bring people around to our way of thinking and eliminate conflicts.
Persuasion is often used in negotiation, which involves being able to discuss and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement. It is the ability to use persuasive negotiation that makes one a good influencer.
Below we listed some tips that can help you in developing good persuading skills and build strategy for successful business negotiations:
  • Focus on the needs of the other party, find out about their expectations, listen carefully, and clarify any issues you are not clear about. Show them that you really interested in them. This will help build mutual trust and respect.
  • Use positive language, sound optimistic and friendly. Avoid saying you disagree, use counter arguing or counter proposals instead.
  • Identify areas of common goal and communicate them to the negotiator, explain how getting what you want could help both parties.
  • Argue your case with logic, i.e. research your competitors and make sure that the claims you make can be verified.
  • Keep calm and use encouraging body language such as mirroring (i.e. hand and body movements). Mirrored behaviour subconsciously builds feeling of empathy. However make sure it is subtle to avoid embarrassing other person.
  • Know when you can compromise by distinguishing between needs and interests.
  • Make decision about the course of action and agree a deadline for resolution.
  • Have a plan for alternative outcomes in case you can’t reach agreement.
In his book “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”, Dr Robert Cialdini described 6 key principles of persuasion after spending three years going “undercover” applying for jobs and attending trainings at used car dealerships, foundations and telemarketing companies, where he could observe real-life cases of persuasion. Those principles of persuasion are:
  • Reciprocation - People tend to return favours. According to Reciprocation (or Reciprocity) principle, people feel indebted to those who do something for them. It states that the information or favors can work and that people who unexpectedly receive a gift are more likely to listen. Cialdini says: “The implication is you have to go first. Give something: give information, give free samples, give a positive experience to people and they will want to give you something in return.”
  • Social Proof - people do things that they see other people doing, especially if they are uncertain about the course of action. They often want to know the opinion of their peers on certain aspects. An example of this could be Testimonials, where satisfied customers express their opinion and at the same time show others that they enjoyed product or service.
  • Commitment and consistency - People tend to follow pre-existing attitudes, values and actions and therefore they want to be consistent in their commitments. We do not like to back out of a deal. According to Cialdini, we are more likely to do something after we have agreed it verbally or in writing, even when the initial incentive was removed. We want to maintain our established self-image by remaining consistent and true to our own word, especially as we get older, because we value consistency even more.
  • Liking - People tend to imitate behaviour of people that they like: “People prefer to say ‘yes’ to those they know and like”, says Cialdini. He also states that “One of the things that marketers can do is honestly report on the extent to which the product or service - or the people who are providing the product or service - are similar to the audience and know the audience’s challenges, preferences and so on.” So if you want to improve your chance of making a sale, get to know the existing preferences of your prospects.
  • Authority - People tend to respect the authority figures. The appearance of authority increases the chance that others will comply with the requests. In the situations of uncertainty people will seek for guidance in order to make the decision. Legitimate and recognized authority figures help persuade prospects to respond (i.e. celebrities’ endorsements in TV advertising).
  • Scarcity - Demand can often be generated by perceived scarcity. Marketers often use time limited offers in the advertisements in order to temporarily boost sales. By doing this they also emphasize the potential for a wasted opportunity.
All the above mentioned techniques are very powerful. Combine as many of them as you can and the chance of getting what you want, both in private and professional life, will be significantly increased.