I like you, but I’m not doing business with you
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 few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.
(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)
If you are likeable, people will be more likely to want to deal with you. If you are unlikeable, people will be less likely to want to deal with you. Being likeable is a simple practice that costs you nothing and brings effortless rewards. Likeability is more than just smiling and being pleasant; it also includes being genuinely considerate of the other party and seeking win/win outcomes.
A likeable negotiator isn’t necessarily a good negotiator. Mere likeability doesn’t guarantee success. You can be likeable and still come away from a negotiation empty-handed, with lots of unbankable compliments! Trying to be likeable under all conditions is a poor strategy. Likeability without strength of will and integrity of character is weakness. Such “nice guys finish last”.
It’s good to be likeable, but you must be willing to be unlikeable when the occasion requires, to make necessary hard decisions the other party may dislike and even resent. You may have to forgo a win/win negotiation and go for win/lose in your favour, or hold a firm position with the other party, or even deliver a “my way or the highway” ultimatum. We won’t discuss here the various scenarios that might require you to do this. The bottom line is that there are times when even an ethical, likeable, empathic negotiator must make hard, impersonal decisions.
The point of a negotiation is not to be liked, but rather to achieve the specific goals of the negotiation. You do your best to do both, but the latter takes priority over the former. Strength of will and character are a higher value than likeability in a negotiation. You can’t build a career on likeability. People may initially go with someone they like but they will only stay with someone they respect and trust.
Linked to likeability is similarity. The more similar you are to the other party, the more you share in common in manners, beliefs, attitudes, behaviours, and characteristics, and the more familiar you feel to them, the more confident and comfortable they will feel with you. Similarity enhances likeability.
The question arises of how can there be similarity in every negotiation when people are unique and often different from each other by personality, background, temperament, or culture? How do you create that sense of familiarity and comfort that comes from similarity?
The answer is simple. No matter how different we may be from each other, we are similar in just as many ways. If you look for the differences instead of the similarities, you will find them. If you look for the similarities instead of the differences, you will also find them. Finding and building on the similarities between you and the other party makes you likeable, and more likely to be liked and trusted by them. Poor negotiators focus on the differences and unwittingly build walls of separation. Great negotiators look for the similarities and build bridges of connection. Some examples include the saying “Look Ma – no hands” as a universal attempt to impress our mothers and improve their admiration and love of us. Most negotiators have families that they care about and possibly children that they are proud to show pictures of and maybe ‘war stories’ of negotiations that went embarrassingly wrong which can bring levity to a strange setting. Bridges of connection can be built to the initial strain of the unfamiliarity in a negotiation.