Handling negotiations with clients and customers is no easy task, but active listening is a negotiator’s secret weapon. In order to be a successful negotiator, one must master the art of listening. When most of us think about negotiating, we often think of negotiators as persuasive talkers. However, the best negotiators are those that take a different approach: they listen more than they talk. Negotiations are about finding a balance between the needs of two parties and this is not possible without hearing the other party’s side. Active listening involves acknowledging the other person, inquiring about their needs, and restating what they say. In doing so, the negotiator will find that they are more engaged with their client and they are more likely to strike a deal. Here are just a few of the reasons why negotiators need to spend more time listening and less time talking.
1) Listening Helps You Identify Their Needs
Listening is an invaluable skill in ensuring a successful negotiation. In some ways, in fact, it is more important than talking. That’s because a successful negotiation requires an exchange of information from both parties and listening helps you to learn more about the specific needs of your counterpart. Many communication problems in negotiations are the result of poor listening skills, so you must be attentive and objective in order to gather as much information as possible. You can’t expect the other person to give up all of their information and show all their cards right up front, so it’s critical that you ask questions throughout the negotiation and listen carefully to obtain as much useful information as possible.
2) Listening Helps You Devise a Strategy
In order for any negotiation to be effective, you must have something of value to offer the other party. That’s why it is critical that you find out what they value most. It would do you no good, for example, to spend an hour talking about price when all the other party really cares about is a quick turnaround.
3) Listening Can Help Shift Tensions
It is inevitable that some negotiations can end up getting tense and effective active listening can help shift tensions and enhance progress in an otherwise deadlock situation. It signals to the other person that you are putting your need and agenda aside and taking additional time to consider their perspective.
4) Listening Demonstrates That You Value Their Opinion
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree, but listening shows the other person that you value their opinion and you care about their point of view. Be sincere when you are listening to show your client that you genuinely care about what they have to say. This makes the other person feel justified and validated.
5) Listening Builds Trust and Rapport
When you allow your potential client to talk about their own needs, wants, and feelings, it encourages a positive relationship. Active listening is an important skill that builds rapport, understanding, and trust. Listening helps to build lasting professional relationships that can lead to long-term negotiation success.