Negotiation Means Learning HOW to listen

Welcome back to the continuing Wednesday series on negotiation.

Today we’re taking a look at another important negotiating tactic: learning how to listen.

Many people “listen” to someone else talk without actually listening. They spend the time preparing what they intend to say when the other person finishes speaking.

It’s an important distinction because we don’t absorb what someone else is saying when we’re focused mostly on our own response.

So, how do we break this habit? In three steps:

1. Practice listening. When talking with other people, focus on their words. If you find yourself thinking about your response, consciously shift your mind back onto the words the other person is saying. Think about their words, not your reaction.

Note: this requires caring about what others have to say. An important skill that will serve you well as a person as well as a negotiator.

2. Listen Actively. Don’t just let the words go in one ear, bounce off your pre-formed opinions, and fly out the other ear unheard. Consider the words you’re hearing and what you think about the other side’s position. This is different than planning your response, though there may be crossover involved.

3. Plan your response after the other side finishes. Take a moment to think if you need to. If you have to take a few seconds, that’s ok. It’s even all right to say “Could I have a minute to think about it.” In negotiations, people appreciate you taking the time to consider their position.

Listening to the other side allows you to practice another important negotiation strategy: thinking on your feet and finding ways to meet in the middle.

Join me next week, when we look at exactly how that’s done.

Have questions about negotiation strategies or other publishing law issues? Ask away in the comments – I love to hear from you!

2 thoughts on “Negotiation Means Learning HOW to listen

  • February 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Great point Susan! I especial like the tip to ask for a few minutes to consider what the other person said. Ran into this situation with a contractor yesterday and how I wish I’d said that!

  • February 19, 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks Amanda! Most people don’t mind if you take the time to think, and you’ll be far more likely to come up with a better solution if you take a moment to think it through.

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