Empathy Strengthens your Negotiation
If you properly construct your reflective response, your counterpart’s natural reaction will be to provide more explanation and information. You will find the following tips helpful in learning to be empathetic.
- Recognize and identify emotions. Most inexperienced negotiators are not adept at recognizing myriad emotions. You will find it easier to identify others’ emotions if you can easily identify your own. Make it a habit to check how you are feeling. Are you frustrated, stressed, angry, happy, sad, nervous? Then use these skills to identify your counterpart’s emotions.
- Rephrase the content. If you restate your counterpart’s comments word for word, she will believe you are parroting her. Doing so not only sounds awkward, but also makes your counterpart angry. The key is to restate the content using different words.
- Make noncommittal responses. A good way to start reflective statements is with such phrases as “It sounds like . . .”; “It appears that . . .”; or “It seems like . . .” These phrases work well because they are noncommittal. If you blatantly state, “You are angry because . . .” most people will proceed to tell you why you are incorrect.
- Take educated guesses. Recently we were involved in a negotiation for the sale of a business. The seller told the potential buyer that the offer he had submitted for buying the business was ridiculous. The buyer responded, “It almost sounds like you are insulted by my offer.” The seller replied, “Not insulted, just shocked.” Although the buyer was not entirely accurate in his assessment of his counterpart’s emotion, it was a good educated guess. Educated guesses work well because even if your guess is not entirely accurate, it will most likely encourage your counterpart to clarify his true feelings.