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Polish your shoes

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

49 First impressions

You may have vast expertise in your field. You may be capable and trustworthy. You may even be the answer to the other party’s prayers. But that may not be enough to overcome a bad first impression.

The old cliché – you never get a second chance to make a first impression – applies in negotiations and in life.

At the beginning of a negotiation, how people perceive you can have a greater overall impact than who you really are. The opening seconds and minutes of any first meeting are key. In that time, the other party will form an impression and perception of you that may affect the negotiation, and perhaps shape the outcome.

From the first eye contact, the other party will be examining and assessing you, to see whether you appear likeable and trustworthy, or not. People generally prefer to do business with someone they like and trust. They will also be assessing your apparent competence and expertise, or lack thereof. But likeability and apparent trustworthiness may be the decisive factors.

So, it’s up to you to create that first impression, which may be a lasting impression. Your personal appearance and that of your office are important  first-impression factors. If you appear unkempt, untidy, unwashed; if your “style” is overly casual or shows poor taste; if your office is messy, cluttered, or dirty and the furniture is worn out, mismatched, or looks like it came from Goodwill, your credibility is compromised.

You can work on your appearance, your manners, and your style. You can learn to project a quality of calm composure, confidence, and a positive, cheerful attitude. You can modulate your tone of voice, and also the pace and fluidity of your speech. You can design and decorate your office in a professional manner. These are all important elements in creating a good first impression.

But the ideal is that you really are who you are presenting yourself to be, and that the first impression you create is a true one. It is more important that you actually develop such qualities of character, rather than merely trying to project them.

Let who you are, what you say, and how you act create the impression and the perception of you as a person of intelligence, integrity, dignity and, if possible, warmth and humour. But also let these things be true of you, to a reasonable degree. Otherwise you are merely an actor, or even a con man. And that is not a solid basis from which to negotiate and do business.

A great negotiator knows that first impressions can be developed long before you meet the other party for the first time. By sending them information in advance of your meeting you are able to create the impression of your ability, expertise, your product, service or goal in a way and manner of your choosing. Having a public image that you develop via public relations, advertising, marketing and branding, correctly done, sets the tone and professionalism in advance of shaking their hand for the first time.

First impressions are indelible. Most people don’t like to change their mind about something as it threatens them to consider that they may have made a mistake and, if they made a mistake in this instance then maybe they have made it in other instances as well.


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