5 simple tricks to help you negotiate in meetings

Psychologist and author Phillip Adcock reveals his golden rules for successful negotiation every time

A group of business people sit around a meeting table to negotiate

Using the word ‘you’ when you negotiate signals to listeners that you’re aware of their needs

When it comes to successful negotiation, it’s often the things you can’t factor into a PowerPoint presentation – such as body language and authenticity – that will help you get your points across. Follow these easy psychological tips to get the outcome you’re looking for:

1. Before a meeting, plan your final point first, and work backwards 

Write the final summary slide containing your most important points, and then create the deck from there. This will help you pull together all the supporting evidence you need.

2. Use appropriate language to negotiate – and put the focus on listeners

When convincing others of your ideas, it’s best to speak in terms of ‘you’, as opposed to ‘me’ or ‘I’. Humans make decisions on an emotional level, but justify them rationally. So when stating an argument, it’s always helpful to highlight what’s in it for the other person.

3. If using slides or visual prompts, always stand with them on your left

In the West, people read from left to right. So if you are talking from that direction, it helps others to process the information more easily.

4. Honesty really is the best possibility – don’t try and bluff

Be prepared to say “I’ll come back to you”, if you don’t know an answer to a question. Humans are very good at detecting inconsistencies in what others are saying – so it’s always best to be honest if you want to negotiate successfully.

5. Give your listeners a break (literally)

The human attention span is said to be around eight seconds.We find it difficult to focus for periods of more than 20 minutes. Therefore, to keep everyone’s attention, make sure you build time into a long meeting for breaks. That way, everyone stays alert – and will be more likely to take your points on board.

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