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Practical Negotiating: Tools, Tactics & Techniques by Tom Gosselin

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Techniques for Assessing Needs

Ask Open-Ended Questions to Distinguish between Wants and Needs

After listening to the other party’s position, ask them “Why?” An even better question is “What does getting that do for you?” This mother-of-all-questions can help you get beneath the surface to the real reason for the other’s position. Ask “Why not?” to try to understand the other party’s reason for refusing to accept your position. Use “who, what, when, where, and how” questions as well to ensure that you completely understand his or her wants and needs.

Summarize and Paraphrase to Express Understanding

As the opening positions are stated and the exploring begins, step back and summarize. “As I understand it, you’re saying that a two-year contract is necessary to lock in this rate. Did I get that right?” Another technique involves arbitrary mirroring or stating back in no uncertain terms the firmness of the other’s position. “So, you’re saying there are no conditions under which you would accept less than full price?”

Use Silence Effectively to Encourage the Other Party to Open Up

In interpersonal communications, most of us are uncomfortable with silence. The old adage “The first one who speaks, loses” may seem glib, but test it yourself. In your next conversation, let 5 seconds to 10 seconds go by and see what happens. Silence can stimulate the other party to make a concession or reveal more about his or her position.

Listen with Empathy to the Other Person

Put yourself in the ...

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