Negotiation Skills and Influencing Other’s Perceptions

A very key element in negotiation involves learning what is key to negotiation. It’s not redundancy. Its truth.

The process to learn effective negotiation skills is like an attempt to climb a sheer rock wall. It can be done, it has been done, but the sooner one identifies solid places to put her foot or grab a ledge, the faster… and more safely… the wall is scaled. Similarly, the sooner the “key” concepts are learned, the faster and safer the path to successful negotiation.

One foundational “key” issue in successful negotiation is perceptions. Learn the way these mold the process and you will learn how to use them to your advantage, every time.

Perceptions are present in a negotiation whether people want them to be there or not. The fact is, whether a negotiation is happening over the telephone between two different parties on two different continents or whether it is happening in a crowded, dimly lit lounge on leather couches, there will be perceptions of each party by the other party and those perceptions will influence the process and the outcome, in a big way. In a previous article, I talked about the attitudes and actions of negotiators that can help or hinder the reaching of a successful agreement. But there is more to negotiation skills than just the perception of the other party’s attitude. They include the perception of their perceptions.

What does the other party perceive you will do? What are they going to do if you surprise them? What are they going to do if you play it exactly as they would have planned? These are questions that will arise in the mind of the parties. The real issue here is whether you can influence the other party’s perceptions before they act on them.

The fact is, you can. You can do it honestly and legitimately and if you are good, the other party will have no idea it was planned.

There may be a limitless number of “perceptions” the other party will have of you, and here we will address a few. Learning about how to influence one perception will show you how to actively influence almost any that could surface in a typical negotiation scenario.

Accepting the first opening offer – consider what will happen in a negotiation when the buyer makes an offer, and the seller immediately takes it. What is the feeling (perception) created in the buyer? Does he think he just made a good deal, or does he become worried he just offered too much? In truth, the buyer will often react with fear when his offer is immediately accepted. He wonders if he was too aggressive. Too positive. Too hopeful. He wonders if maybe he really did not know the true value of the item for sale and that is why the seller had no hesitation to accept.

Learning successful negotiation skills will show you that accepting the opening offer is often a bad idea. This is because people expect to negotiate, even if it’s only a little. So if the seller accepts without complaint or condition, it creates fear and anxiety in the buyer’s mind that there is something she doesn’t know about, something that should have been researched. Otherwise, why no debate over the price? Once a buyer feels this way, the gloves come off. Then the parties are in a fight mode because the buyer has this gnawing feeling that she was just taken… and doesn’t even know why.

Become an astute seller by not accepting the opening offer, even if you want to. This is the time to get creative. It may be that you are going to come back requesting a small concession of the buyer, something like a shorter escrow or a larger deposit or a higher interest rate. Whatever it is, significant or insignificant, ask for a concession, even if you like the present agreement as it stands.

This methodology influences the other party’s perceptions (in this case, the buyer). It tells them (without telling them) you are still moving toward a deal, and that they don’t need to worry that they just fell for a trap you set. Remember: negotiation is a process.

Making concessions – consider how the opposing party would feel if you made absolutely no concessions to your terms of the deal. How will that influence their perception of you? Will it make the other party defensive?

Concessions are necessary; the other side expects them. If you don’t make them, and make several, they will sense you are not going to budge on anything. And that is not what you want them thinking, even if it’s true.

Every known a seller to present something for sale, and after he got an offer, he raised his price? The average reaction of buyers in this situation is something between bewilderment and anger, and rightfully so. To take this position is simply insulting to the other party.

Well, making zero concessions isn’t much better. To work to a successful deal, you have to have concessions built into your negotiation. In other words, you have to have concessions planned, concessions that you will make as the process goes along.

Don’t overlook this point. It is very important. The main reason to have concessions planned is simply this: you don’t get any credit for concessions you don’t bring up. If you make your offer and load everything you would possibly give in to in that offer… you have nothing to work with down the road in the negotiation. You can’t deplete your ammo at the first sight of the enemy or you’ll have nothing to shoot with later on. And the carelessness could get you killed.

So how to do this? Make a systematic plan on paper or in your mind of what you will give, what you can concede. Put in order of priority. Then, as the negotiation proceeds, pull out the smaller, less important concessions first. The other side will push again, asking for more. Proceed to the weightier ones, the ones that cost you more. But each time you give up something, you will make certain you are getting what is important to you in the deal, and you are getting closer and closer to a successful completion.

Putting the plan into action is what it’s all about. And there’s no way to put a plan into action if there isn’t a plan. So do yourself a huge benefit and before you get into any negotiation, large or small, make a plan of how you will influence the other party’s perception of you and how you are going to negotiate. Try it; you’ll perceive the difference right away.

“Bad, bad, says the buyer, but when he goes his way, then he boasts.” Proverbs 20:14

To learn more about how to take the right stance in a negotiation, look at “A Positive Approach”

Setting Out Your Presentation Slides for the Best Results

I like to use a few rules for my slides that I hope makes them more attractive and readable by the audience.

  1. The slide should have some level of symmetry or balance. For example if you have some bullets on the left maybe an image or diagram on the right to ‘balance’ the slide. Imagine a pivot in the middle of the slide and the words or images have weight – now will it fall to the right or left?
  2. Choose your colours wisely. Ask your self whether the colours go together and what the colour combination means. Do your colours look like the colours used in any brand that you know – this may be good or bad. It’s also good to keep some consistency across the slide pack. Using a different set of colours on each slide suggests that the slides have come from different origins. I am not a great lover of coloured fonts – but they can soften the impact of the writing. For example dark grey can look better than black. Dark blue is also effective and quite easy to read. Please avoid writing in red or green. Those of us who are colour blind just can’t read it. Even red on white is very difficult at a distance. This by the way is true if you are using a flip chart – put down the red pen and pick up the black or blue.
  3. Most people read slides from left to right. It is often best to place bullets on the left and supporting images on the right. When using a diagram and bullets you may like to swap this over. As the diagram/graph may be self explanatory and the bullets just pulling our some key points that if read first would not make sense.
  4. Best to leave off full stops at the end of bullets – it just looks messy and distracts the eye.
  5. Remember that you may be asked to print your slides so anything other than a white background uses lots of ink. The old style of yellow type on a blue background is indeed quite easy to read on a screen but now looks very dated and a good quality printed version is hard to create.
  6. Add automatic page numbering via the master – very helpful if you muddle up the printed slides as you are preparing for the big day. If you are presenting using a handout it is also much easier to ask your colleagues to turn to page seven, than to look for the page with the big graph and four bullets.
  7. To keep things simple it is often best to split the slide into three zones. These three zones will also help you in presenting the slide which we will come on to later. You don’t have to stick to this layout but it is a good place to start and seems to work quite well.
    • Top, where the strap line goes. The sentence that captures what the slide is all about.
    • The main part of the slide split into two or three areas vertical or horizontal areas for words and images
    • The bottom of the slide – often not used for bullets or diagrams but containing page numbers, copyright, logos, etc. The bottom of the slide can also contain the lead in to the next slide. For, some this is a sort of end of slide strap line and for others a small prompt or just a virtual zone that you need use to create the link to the next slide.

Turquoise Jewellery: The Ultimate Present for a December Birthday

The birth stone of December is turquoise, a show-stopping azure precious stone that’s been capturing eyes and hearts for milliennia. Wearing the birthstone associated with your birthday is thought to give good luck and protection, and what better way to wear it than in an exquisite turquoise necklace or bracelet, hand crafted and finished in Sterling silver or 9ct gold.

Turquoise is made from hydrated copper aluminium phosphate and it is found in igneous rocks which are rich in aluminium. Literally translated it means “Turkish”, a nod to its past when Levantine traders imported the jewel into Europe via Turkey. Turquoise is one of the few opaque gem stones, giving it a distinctive deep-pigmented colour which can vary from green to sky blue depending on its make-up, with or without black veins running through the stone called its matrix. Bright blue is the most sought-after type of the stone, an on-trend colour in fashion and jewellery. Turquoise and blue topaz are the birthstones of December, and Turquoise is also the traditional gem stone for people celebrating their 6th or 11th wedding anniversaries.

Turquoise was one of the first semi-precious stones to be excavated, mainly in the Sinai region of Egypt, Iran, and the south west United States and Mexico. Having been mined since as long ago as 3,000 BC, understandably resources of the mineral is running low. This has led to replica gemstones becoming prevalent in jewellery in the modern day, and a higher worth placed on real turquoise.

Turquoise offers a historical past rivalled by no other gem stone. The mummy of Queen Zer, the ancient Eqyptian monarch, was found decorated in vivid turquoise bracelets when she was discovered in nineteen hundred. She had chosen the precious stone to wear for 7,500 years. And picture the famous gold death mask of Tutankhamen: it too is embedded with precious turquoise stones.

The reason behind its historical significance is that turquoise has been highly valued by a lot of ancient civilisation who thought that it possessed powerful metaphysical properties. Around Asia the gem was believed to protect from the evil eye, and the Aztecs reserved the stone for the Gods in religious masks. In the 16th century American Indians thought that turquoise embodied the spirits of the ocean and sky, using it as both a form of exchange and also to bring fortune and protection to fighters and hunters. Even today turquoise is seen as having protective properties. In modern gemstone therapy it is believed to boost self-confidence and relieve depression, stomach problems, viral infections and rheumatism. If presented as a gift turquoise is perceived as a sign of friendship.

Whether you believe in these legends or not, it’s hard not to see the beauty which this show-stopping stone has.

To view a full selection of spectacular hand-made turquoise jewellery visit Birthstone Gifts []. They offer a personalisation service, which includes a wide selection of charms to include in jewellery available for a unique and unforgettable present.