You have almost certainly heard before that we should spend more time listening and less time speaking. Whereas the natural urge in most conversations (particularly arguments) is to want to speak your mind, listening is a far more valuable skill. While most people are trying to figure out how best to respond while “listening,” a far more effective approach is what’s called “active listening.” Listening carefully can help us learn and challenge deeply held assumptions while simultaneously gaining us credence with the other person. Indeed, the only real way to convince someone of something is to make sure that person feels like they are being taken seriously. And you won’t convince anyone you’re taking them seriously by simply thinking of the best way to respond to whatever they say.
Even the little things, like remembering someone’s name after you meet them, can make a huge difference. This seemingly trivial point merited an entire chapter in Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Win Friends & Influence People. He recommended repeating the name out loud after you hear it and then several times to yourself after you meet them. Writing the name down as well as some fact or characteristic to remember the person by isn’t a bad idea either. Indeed, I can guarantee that very few people will feel truly listened to if you cannot even remember their name.
What They Say is More Important Than What YouSay
In negotiations, this is particularly important and was brought home to me while reading Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws of Power. The book is completely and totally amoral and makes no pretense about applying any sort of ethical framework to its arguments. Instead, it is nothing more than a pragmatic guide to understanding how to gain power and how power is attained. Indeed, I might be a bit nervous if I found any of my staff reading the book, as I would if I found out they were a huge fan of Nietzsche and were always going on about the “will to power” or something of that sort. As with money, though, these tools exist whether you use them or not. There are certainly very important moral questions as well, but those come into play with regard to how you use these so-called “laws of power.”
Real Estate Negotiations
The more you talk, the more likely you are to give something away that weakens your hand and the less likely the other side will.
Knowing the rules of negotiation, power, and the like aren’t immoral in themselves. They exist whether we want them to or not. The danger is that you exploit these rules in order to exploit others. But if you engage in exploitative behavior, it will almost certainly come back to bite you—and often even ruin you. Indeed, one of Greene’s rules is to guard your reputation with your life. Even if you don’t care about morality at all (and you definitely should), you should still care about guarding your reputation, which can take a lifetime to build, but only a few minutes to ruin.
That being said, learning how to negotiate better is by no means unethical. And in this case, the only key point is that when it comes to talking in a negotiation, less is usually more.