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The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority. Kenneth Blanchard

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The language of negotiation

The language of negotiation

What is a good negotiator? It's not just a strategist, but also someone who knows how to use language astutely.


Many books describe good negotiators as skilled strategists, who must be able to work toward a solution that is satisfactory to both sides while continuing to defend their own interests. To do this, they must be able to ascertain the room for negotiation and the priorities of the other side, determine how their own demands will be perceived, imagine judicious compromises that will preserve their interests, make the right concessions at the right time, etc. This primarily requires excellent rational and analytical skills.

That being said, negotiation is also a game of influence. The rapport between the parties in a negotiation is a decisive factor in the outcome—regardless of the strategy employed. Indeed, the way that the two sides interact will determine, for example, whether desired information can be obtained without having to divulge more than necessary, whether the parties take their respective demands seriously, whether they can be persuaded not to go back on concessions, etc.

In this game of influence, both verbal and nonverbal language plays a critical role. Indeed, the success of a negotiation strategy may well depend on your mastery of the language of negotiation:

–Do you know how to position yourself from the very first words spoken in the negotiation?

– Do you adopt an attitude that maximizes the information that you can obtain from the other side?

– Do you present your point of view persuasively?

– Do you use language effectively to influence the other side?

– Do you choose words that help move the negotiation toward a satisfactory outcome?

Synopsis n.143b