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2010-12-15 20:31:10

The Right Answer Mechanism

Hello Good Negotiators

We are reviewing a series of mechanisms that can enhance our negotiating capabilities.

At first I was a bit uncomfortable using the term "mechanism" until I checked out its definition. Merriam-Webster shares that a mechanism is "a process, technique or system for achieving a result". Wow, could there be a better term based on our objectives as negotiators?

This week's mechanism deals with answering questions we might be asked during some hard bargaining. Adding the techniques of this mechanism can really impact what we say or don't say when giving the right answer to a question.

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The Right Answer Mechanism

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Good negotiators are adept at gaining information from their opponent by asking questions. Good negotiators also know that they will be asked questions in return.

To improve our capability by providing the right answers, consider the following six (6) rules, guidelines and suggestions.

1. Good negotiators always pause before answering a question.

That pause sends a powerful message and provides time to consider the right answer.

2. Many questions are asked of us, not to gain information or a significant verbal response, but to put us on the defensive and take control. Focus any answer and our emotions on tactfully regaining control. For example, there are times when we should delay answering their question and instead compliment their question and consider asking why they asked it.

3. Not all questions deserve an answer. Responding with silence, a pause or puzzled look can be most disarming to our opponent.

Ignoring their question and, after that pause, proceeding with a question of our own may be just the right technique or mechanism.

This can work wonders when negotiating with your family, especially your kids!

4. Answers to questions should not be framed to please our opponent. Being too accommodating with our answers can send all the wrong messages, i.e. "I'm ready to concede." or "Keep asking and I'll keep making concessions." If your answer is likely to come across as combative, soften it by first saying, "You may not like to hear me say this, but ...."

5. Consider answering questions like today's politicians do. They give an answer but not to the question being asked. They typically answer the question they wished they had been asked. They stay "on

message". Go into negotiations thinking of what you'd hope your

opponent would ask. Formulate that answer and be prepared to give that answer to some question they will ask. A bridging statement will make it work, such as, "You bring up a good point, but first let me say...."

6. The right answer is always a concise answer. Saying too much is the downfall of many a negotiator. Chose your words carefully.

Use more short sentences. Think quickly if your response might be one you'll regret. Remember, a closed mouth gathers no foot. You can't 'unring the bell' and take back something you said in error.

Mechanisms for your use as you KEEP Negotiating.

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