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How to negotiate with a poker face

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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 second section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the 26 different personality traits of negotiators you are likely to encounter in the course of your negotiating career are identified. Over the next few weeks we will recommend ways of dealing with each type of negotiator.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

12 The detached negotiator

Detached negotiators appear calm and indifferent in a negotiation, as if the outcome will not affect them at all. They often sit in a neutral posture with a poker face while keeping their participation correct but minimalist. They can be difficult to persuade and are almost impossible to excite. Their power and authority comes from their aloof regard. Detached negotiators usually have no direct stake in the outcome, and therefore no emotional involvement; hence, their detachment.

But their neutrality can be tipped to favour your viewpoint through a motivated, energetic approach focusing on a few key areas:

  • Identify the benefits your goal will bring to them or to those they represent.
  • Make a compelling case that shows how your goal serves or is a means to a greater good. Define them as the “gatekeeper” who can facilitate the achievement of this goal by cooperating with you and furthering your agenda. And show them how, by serving the greater good in this way, they will earn increased respect and achieve greater status in their field.
  • Try to get a sense of their personal interests, beliefs, and character; then find a leverage point to involve them personally and make or convince them to care about the outcome.
  • If none of these works, then point out the downside to them personally, or to the client or interest they represent, of not cooperating with you or supporting your goal.

Detached negotiators will have some vulnerable leverage point you can use; the trick is to discern or discover it. They may be swayed by what others – their peers, their colleagues, their employer, their social circle – will think or say about them, negatively or positively, if they accept your viewpoint. They may have personal opinions or beliefs that are compatible or incompatible with your goal. They may be receptive to appeals to personal pride or a show of recognition and respect. They may respond to logic and a clear presentation of merit. Or, they may be impervious to all such approaches, in which case your best strategy is to match their detachment with your own.

When a detached negotiator is leaning toward the middle, they may only need to be shifted by one percent either way, so tread carefully and don’t press too hard, since this may only entrench their neutral position or even nudge them a crucial one percent against you.


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