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How to persist without being annoying


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)

88 Persistence

There is a fine line in a negotiation between being persistent and being annoying, between initiative and insensitivity. Persistence requires artful application to avoid being simply annoying. You want to get past an initial “no” or unresponsiveness without seeming pushy or obnoxious. You want to gently press through resistance and pursue your objective, but in a way that feels friendly, curious, helpful, and relational. To do this you need to be fluid and adaptable, like water that always finds a chink in a wall and flows around the obstacles blocking its path.

Certain people find it difficult to accept or reject a proposal. They may be excessively cautious, passive or indecisive, ambiguous or ambivalent. They may lack confidence or have low self-worth. They may think your proposal is not for them without a full investigation, or they may feel unworthy of it. Sometimes the people you’re dealing with are the information collectors, not the decision makers.

Artful persistence in the form of simple questions, friendly comments, and a relational presence allows you to keep the conversation alive and move it toward greater clarity and toward your objectives. It allows you to discern the issues behind the apparent reluctance, resistance, or indecisiveness of the other party. It’s important to discover these things in the early stage of the negotiation. Once you know what and who you’re dealing with, you can better respond to it, or to them, with gentle persistence.

For example, if the party lacks confidence and self-esteem, your persistence may take the form of supportive or empowering comments to help them feel more comfortable and confident with you. If they are simply indecisive and ambivalent personalities, you can focus their attention on the value and quality of the product or service you are offering and how it will meet their particular needs, thus helping them move toward a decision one way or another.

If they are simply gathering information for another party who is the decision maker, you can graciously provide them with the information they need instead of trying to pressure them to make a decision they are not authorised to make. This eliminates unnecessary awkwardness, and you will make a better overall impression, which puts your product or service in a better light. Invariably the information collector will give the decision-maker their impressions of you and whatever you are representing. The decision-maker is likely to go with their recommendation as they have to work with them day in and day out and only deal, or not deal, with you once or twice.

Persistence is not giving up until the outcome is final, one way or another. After a meeting, you can persist in following up with phone calls, e-mails, or other forms of communication. As a general rule, the more persuasive your persistence, the likelier you are to succeed.

Persistence can be used to warm people up, to inform them, to change their perspective and their minds, or even to wear them down. But there is a point of diminishing returns, where persistence becomes merely annoying. A good negotiator is sensitive to this point, and gracefully acquiesces when it is reached. Persistence can be a strength, but knowing when to quit is wisdom. Never ignore the fact that what you may be offering is the right product, service or goal but the timing for the other party may be wrong. Perhaps a revisit a few months later will bring a positive response so always build bridges and ensure you don’t burn them by being unnecessarily persistent when the timing is wrong.


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