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Negotiate by Listening, Part 1

Updated: May 1, 2020

Generally, we talk too much. And even when we don’t talk too much, we want to, we just can’t get the other guy to shut up.

We do this because as professional public relations specialists/people handlers/negotiators we believe that if we can get somebody to listen to us for long enough, we can talk them in to anything.

But, it just ain’t so, Joe.

Generally, the opposite is true. For one, the more you let the other guy talk, the more he likes you. The more he likes you (an absolute fact) and the more likely he will make a deal with you. For two, the more you talk, the more you are likely to tell him something he can use against you. For three, if you are talking, you are not listening and if you are not listening you are not learning what it will take to satisfy the other guy. For four, nobody likes silence. So when you shut up the other guy is impulsively driven to fill the void – this is good for you because he will tell you what he wants, needs, thinks AND if you are actually listening you will have the information necessary to bring the deal home.

If you have any doubts about your listening ability, put a clock on yourself, either mentally or actually. If you are talking more than 50% of the time you have room for improvement.

In the old days, I was trying to buy a lease from a family with a young son. We had worked through the tough stuff: bonus, term, royalty but I just couldn’t get them over the hump. I wore them and me out with my silver-tongued talking. Finally, I just sat back in my chair (kitchen chair, not easy chair), folded my hands and tried to put a pleasant look on my impatient face. Five minutes passed and I didn’t even wiggle.  They began to wiggle and then the wife said to the husband, “go ahead and tell him. Go ahead and tell him what you want.” He said, “We were just wondering if you could take a little bit of drill pipe or tubing and build a swing set for our son when you are out here drilling?”

Bingo. The deal was done. The cost was inconsequential and everybody was happy.

Sometimes we should negotiate by listening.


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