If you think about it, life is a series of negotiations. You negotiate a salary for a new job. You negotiate to buy a car. You negotiate to buy a house. You negotiate bedtime with your kids. You negotiate a business contract. You negotiate with your spouse on where to eat dinner. We negotiate every day. But how many of us have received formal negotiation training from experts with a proven track record?
The best business book I read in 2019 was Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. Voss was the FBI's lead international hostage negotiator, and he helped refine the Bureau's hostage negotiation techniques and philosophy. The book was an enjoyable, easy read and immediately applicable. In the book, Voss uses real-life hostage negotiations to demonstrate how we can apply those same principles to business and personal situations.
One simple, but very effective negotiating technique from the book that I'm working on right now is called "mirroring". Simply put, repeat the last three words or the critical one to three words that someone said (in the form of a question), and then wait for their response. As Voss says in the book, "Of the entirety of the FBI's hostage negotiation skill set, mirroring is the closest one gets to a Jedi mind trick. Simple, and yet uncannily effective." Here’s an example conversation with a car salesman.
- Salesman: The new Tahoe is $65,0000
- You: $65,000?
- Salesman: Yes, that’s the sticker price.
- You: Sticker price?
- Salesman: Yes, the sticker price is the asking price but we can do a lot better than that.
- You: Better than that?
- Salesman: Well, yes. We probably can sell it to you for $2,500 above invoice.
- You: $2,500 above invoice?
- Salesman: Invoice is $57,000, so the price would be $59,500.
- You: $59,500?
- Salesman: Yes, but let me go talk to my manager to see if he can do better. We can probably sell it to you at invoice or a little lower.
With mirroring, people will instinctively elaborate on what was just said and unknowingly negotiate with themselves. Use the technique to gather information and lead the conversation in the direction you want it to go.
Whether you are a commercial real estate advisor like me, a business owner, a salesperson, a banker or a stay-at-home mom, this book is worth the read. Why not learn about negotiation from someone like a hostage negotiator who can't afford to lose?
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I assist my clients to buy, sell, and lease commercial buildings and land in the Houston Region. I help them leverage their real estate needs to achieve their business or personal goals. Call me for a free consultation.
Barkley Peschel, CCIM
Senior Vice President | Fort Bend
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