Killer Negotiator: Say less, listen more

Killer negotiator

We are well set out on our path of being that Killer negotiator who can snatch any deal from anyone! Different situations call for different actions, and it is the mark of a Master negotiator which method he uses. to snatch the bargain. 

As I keep saying:

A Good Negotiator Wins the deal. A Killer Negotiator gets a Win – Win!

This is one of a series of posts on and this blog, targeted at the art of negotiation. After picking up the basics of negotiation in believing  Everybody is a good Guy, and Breaking the Self-Serving Bias

here comes Rule 3. Say less, listen more!

You may be negotiating your salary, or trying to get a bargain on a second-hand house, you may be trying to snatch a deal from the top market competitors in your field or trying to convince your spouse to go for a vacation somewhere. 

You often need to be a Killer negotiator.

There are negotiations where stakes are low (Such as when you try to get a bargain in the car accessories store) and those where stakes are high (such as when you are trying to pull a million dollar deal from a client). The basics remain the same.

This series of posts is designed to prep you for every negotiation you may ever have to do in your life and if you follow the rules closely, you indeed will be a Killer Negotiator!

A Killer negotiator Says less and listens more

There are times when we go out there too charged up.

We are all set to prove our point, excited and geared up – to show the rest of the world how intelligent and innovative we are.

Whether it is a salary negotiation or a first date with someone you love, we head out with a lot of things to say and to impress the person with all the powers of seduction we have.

This approach, however, does not work all the time.

A killer negotiator often uses his skills differently.

More often than not, listening to the person on the other end gives you a much greater edge than saying.

You do not need to know everything about everything but you can learn it. If someone differs with your opinion, instead of trying to immediately convince him /her otherwise – just hear the person out.

Just wait – Pause – Listen.

Killer negotiator

Consider this :

You walk into your Boss’ office in an attempt to bargain your salary. You feel you are underpaid, you have been working late for monhts now and you would not go for a less than 20% hike!! You are totally charged up!

You open by “Boss, I need a raise”

Your boss gives you the most obvious answer: “Sorry, not happening!”

Things can go in one of two directions from here. You have anticipated the rejection and probably you have also speculated the reason for it. The reason can be one of many things:

  • It may be that he does not have the authority to sanction it
  • Maybe he does not like you
  • Maybe he is not going to do it because it is discriminatory to other employees.

or a number of other reasons. 

Outcome 1: You assume that he does not like you!! You get arrogant and react in a confrontational way. Or you presuppose another reason and try to justify that. Either way, you are speaking, not listening.

Outcome 2: You just keep quiet and let him talk about what the real reason is, rather than assuming anything negative on your own. This is what a killer negotiator will do.

If you presuppose something and start fighting that, it cuts you off from the real reason and puts your Boss in a defensive position. He will not tolerate arrogance or insubordination and will just ask you to leave.

If you keep quiet, however, he might open up to say more such as:

“There are major budget cuts and they are laying off people right now! The management will not approve of this. There is no chance of a hike in the near future.”

This approach gives you an insight to the real issue here, and following this, you can work around with an alternate solution such as higher paid holidays during the year, taking time off early from work or such other perks which your Boss is authorised to give. Also remember, since you have listened to your Boss patiently now he is in a much more conducive position to listen to you.

Benefits of Listening

Listening helps you in two priceless ways.

First, you can come to know the root cause of why he differs, and if you can make sense of what he is saying from his point of view, you now have a much greater chance of breaking that argument when you start talking.

Metaphorically speaking, to listen is to take that stance which a lion takes when he takes a step back to pounce on his prey with increased vigor and power. You are just gathering more info to hit the root-cause for any rejection and eliminate it.

Second, the sense of you patiently listening to the other side makes him feel heard, makes him more confident in you. He knows now that you understand his side too. When you start talking now, he will return the favor and listen closely. The environment which you have set up is positive and of acceptance – not a negative environment of rejection.

If you want to be a killer negotiator, do not try to speak loudly or to stop that person in between.

Killer negotiator

Also in your relationships, try listening more than you talk. You will make people feel comfortable and want to talk to you. Mind you – people who talk less does not necessarily listen very well. Your aim is not only to stop talking but also to listen keenly.

Some people give the feeling that they have no interest in the other person’s topic of discussion. This feeling has the exact opposite effect. It can throw away the person on the other side, reducing the chance of any negotiation.

Everyone expects to get heard just as you do. And you have a better chance of winning the negotiation if you fulfill that expectation.

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