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Be the one people want to listen to

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)

117 Verbal confidence

Great negotiators are verbally confident, articulate, and clear. When they open their mouths to speak, they have something to say and they say it well. The simple fact is that people will judge you and form an impression of you based on your voice and your words as well as on your looks, actions, and behaviour. You may have integrity – you may be intelligent, kind, and responsible – but if your voice lacks confidence, if you stumble when you speak, or if your words are vague, imprecise, or unclear, that can send a wrong signal and create a poor impression, putting you at a disadvantage at the start of a negotiation.

An ideal voice is pleasant, resonant, or in some way appealing or compelling. If it isn’t, if the tenor, pitch, or quality of your voice is odd or unpleasant – perhaps nasal, twangy, raspy, high-pitched – you can often improve it with classical speaking exercises. The voice is an instrument that often can be improved with a little practice. But there are cases where improvement by practice is minimal, perhaps because there is a vocal impediment that cannot be eliminated. In such cases you can still overcome the initial handicap of an odd or unpleasant voice by speaking with intelligence and articulate clarity that engage and impress the mind of the other party. Many individuals have risen above such vocal challenges to become exceptional speakers, orators, politicians, and more.

We can all use a little practice when it comes to speaking. A simple, effective vocal practice is to memorise a favourite monologue from a movie or a speech from a well-known orator or historical figure and practice delivering it to yourself in the mirror. Work on finding an appropriate volume and pitch, neither too soft nor too loud, which is clear and resonant. Work on inflections of voice that emphasise the meanings of the words that you speak. Work on simple gestures and a relaxed, upright posture to accompany your words. Work on an attitude of confidence and clear pronunciation in the delivery of your words. Be clear regarding what you mean to say and find exactly the right words to communicate that meaning most powerfully. And avoid annoying monosyllabic fillers – “ums” and “aahs” – rather, let your natural pauses be a brief silence between thoughts that lets your points sink in.

Your articulate choice of words used to communicate your essential meaning and your inflections, tone, pace, and pronunciation are all important aspects of verbal communication that will make you a compelling speaker with whom others want not only to listen to but also cooperate.

If you speak with an accent unfamiliar to your audience ensure that they can understand what you are saying. If you plan to stay in your environment as a negotiator perhaps you can explore ways to reduce your accent and improve the way you pronounce and sound in the local accent. The local universities may be able to recommend a speech/accent teacher.


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