Earlier in this series, I discussed blinking rate briefly in an article about the eyes. In this article I will go into a more thorough analysis of the topic and share some helpful theories.
The first observation is that it is much easier to observe the blinking rate of another person than to monitor your own. Since the rate of blinking offers clues to what is going on with a person, the person doing the observing is usually at an advantage.
This difference in consciousness of blinking rate, can and often does, provide the astute observer significant insights that become important in many ways. Let’s take a look (no pun intended).
Normally, relaxed adult humans blink at a rate between 15 to 20 times a minute. There are some situations where a person’s habitual blink rate will be different from the standard rate. These would include wearing contact lenses, allergies, some foreign particle in the eye, and diseases such as schizophrenia (faster blink rate) or Parkinson’s disease (slower blink rate).
Curiously, babies have a much longer rate and only blink a couple times a minute. An article by Bahar Gholipoar in Lifescience suggests that the longer blink rate correlates with a less developed dopamine system in infants. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that allows brain cells to communicate.
The most significant factor for blink rate in adults who are not suffering from a disease is the amount of mental tension they are feeling at the moment.
What is of interest in body language is whether there is a marked change in the blinking rate just after some situation or conversation. When a person is under stress, the blinking rate will start to increase without the person being aware of it.
If you observe someone going from a normal 15 per minute rate to 30 to 40 blinks a minute, that person is likely under a great deal of stress, but is often trying to hide that fact.
I learned that lesson years ago in a business negotiation with a vendor over price for some product. He tried the famous “Silent Treatment” with me in order to get a concession.
Since I was aware of his ploy, I just stared back at him and watched his blink rate. I saw it double then double again as his forehead began to perspire. I just watched and waited until he finally caved in.
I doubt that he even knew I was reading the stress level that was going on as observed in his blink rate, and I didn’t let him know I was doing it. If you would share that another person’s blinking rate just shot up, it would likely annoy the other person. Observe, but be discrete.
Next time you are negotiating for a new car, recognize that the sales person is trained to watch your blink rate. If you are clever, you can reverse the logic and determine when the sales person is feeling the heat. Because you know this trick, you will be less likely to give away your own stress level inadvertently.
Recognize that you are rarely aware of your own blink rate unless you are fully concentrating on it, yet the number of blinks is visible for any observer who has been trained to look for this variable.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
I have always been fascinated by mistakes. As human beings, we share several things in common; making mistakes is one of them. The vast majority of the time we blunder into mistakes innocently.
Obviously, if we could see mistakes coming, we would take steps to avoid them. The mistake is usually like a mouse trap that is sprung on us while our focus was on something else.
The interesting thing to me is how we react after a mistake. It is here that I learned a great lesson in leadership and trust. The lesson came years ago when I was a young manager.
I was in Japan negotiating a deal for some equipment. I had inadvertently left some material on a table while a group went out for lunch. Some of the material would have been damaging to our negotiating position if it were leaked to the other side.
Upon returning from lunch, I realize that I had left things in a state where they could have been copied and later used against us. I did not know if anybody actually did copy some pages, but I felt horrible about my lapse.
Upon returning to the home office in the US, I immediately reported to my boss’s office and said, “Dick, you would never know this if I didn’t tell you, but I made a mistake when I was in Japan this week.”
He looked up at me with a smirk and said, “Whatd’ya do?” I explained my lapse in detail. He said, “You’re right, Bob. That’s not the smartest thing you ever did. The smartest thing you ever did was to tell me about it.”
From that moment on, I felt a much higher level of trust and respect for me in the eyes of my boss. I believe it gave my career a significant and lasting boost.
The key point in the above lesson was that he really would never have known anything about it if I had not admitted the gaff. It was the unprompted admission that spoke much louder than the sin.
Since then I have studied the impact of admitting mistakes for leaders, and come away with some observations.
Let’s suppose that I have gathered several leaders into a room and asked them to answer the following question: “After you make a mistake, in terms of maximizing respect for you, is it better to admit it or try to finesse it?”
Nearly all leaders would say admitting the mistake has a much greater probability of increasing respect. The irony is that when subsequently a mistake is made, most of these same leaders choose to hide it, blame someone else, or pretend it didn’t happen.
The real conundrum is that if you were to tap the leader on the shoulder at that time, you would hear “I did not want to admit my mistake because I was afraid people would lose respect for me.”
This situation illustrates that intellectually, most leaders know how to improve respect and trust after a mistake, but many of them tend to not act that way when there is an opportunity to apply it in the field. It seems illogical.
Perhaps in the heat of the moment, leaders lose their perspective to the degree that they will knowingly do things that take them in the opposite direction from where they want to go. I believe it is because they are ashamed of making a mistake.
When you admit an error, it has an incredibly positive impact on trust, because it is unexpected. This is especially true if you are a leader.
Perhaps this is one of the differences between IQ and Emotional Intelligence. Intellectually, leaders know the best route to improve trust, but emotionally they are not mature or confident enough to take the risk.
When you admit an error, it has a positive impact on trust because it is unexpected. As Warren Bennis in Old Dogs: New Tricks noted, “All the successful leaders I’ve met learned to embrace error and to learn from it.”
Respect is not always increased if a mistake is admitted. For example, here are three circumstances where admitting a mistake would reduce respect and trust:
1. If this was the third time you had made the same mistake
2. If the mistake was so stupid it reveals you as being clueless
3. If the mistake was made in an effort to hurt someone or part of a sinister plot
If you find yourself making these kinds of mistakes, it would be wise to reconsider if you are right for a leadership position at all.
The vast majority or mistakes are honest lapses where something unexpected happened. For these so-called “honest” mistakes, it is far better to admit them and ask for forgiveness than to try to finesse the situation or blame others or circumstances. It is a tangible demonstration of your integrity, and that improves trust.
Bob Whipple is CEO of Leadergrow, Inc. an organization dedicated to growing leaders. He can be reached at email@example.com 585-392-7763. Website http://www.leadergrow.com BLOG http://www.thetrustambassador.com He is author of the following books: The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals, Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online, and Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind
The time out signal is a common hand gesture that is rarely misinterpreted, yet there are some subtle differences in meaning to discuss.
Let’s focus in on the different meanings first and then cover a highly useful application of the gesture in an organization setting.
Please stop talking
If another person is babbling on in a private setting or in a group meeting, you can signal it is time to stop talking and start listening by using the time out signal. This is a helpful use when you are having a hard time getting your points out.
The caveat here is that you would use the gesture sparingly. If you made the motion two or three times, it would most certainly annoy the person who is speaking. It would seem like you are cutting off the person.
Also, this use would be ill-advised if you used it to shut up a superior. If the boss wants to talk, it is usually a good idea to allow it.
I need time to think
When a lot of information is being shared in a steady stream, people sometimes need a break for their brains to catch up with the content. The time out gesture would let the presenter know it is time to at least slow down so all people can understand and absorb the content.
This topic is dangerous
You might warn a fellow worker that to pursue a certain line of reasoning is going to backfire. Rather than interrupt the person verbally, the time out signal will call the question and let the speaker know it would be wise to change the subject. You could accompany the hand signal with facial cues that indicate caution, just be sure to verify the right message was received and was not misinterpreted.
Time for a counterpoint
If one person is landing multiple points in support of a one-sided viewpoint and you want to allow some balance, the time out signal will provide that opportunity without saying any words.
Need a break
If, during a long presentation, you or others need to take a bio break, the time out signal can let the facilitator know it is time to take care of the bodily functions. Also, maybe the group just needs to stretch and take in some oxygen.
Call for a vote
If several arguments have been given on a hotly divided topic and you want to call for a vote, the time out signal can get that message out, even while the conversation is continuing.
Need to caucus
During negotiations, it is often necessary to separate teams to discuss strategy. The time out signal is useful for letting the parties know they need to separate for a while.
We are wasting time
Perhaps the most helpful use of the time out sign is in a meeting situation where one person in the room feels the group is spinning wheels going over the same content or dwelling on trivial content when there are more important things to discuss.
This technique is an excellent way to prevent wasting time, but everyone in the group needs to agree ahead of time that nobody will be punished for showing the time out sign. The idea is to establish a group norm that allows the signal to be given by any individual with no negative repercussions.
It is then up to the leader of the group to acknowledge that at least one person has an issue. The first order of business is to thank the individual for expressing a concern, and then find out what the specific concern is.
It may be that the individual wants the group to take a break, or maybe the person feels the current content is not proper or redundant. Get an accurate description of why the person gave the time out signal. This is done by asking open-ended questions.
The leader would then check if others have the same feeling, and if so, make the change. If the person giving the hand signal is the only person interested in changing direction, then he or she needs to be treated with respect for the input but recognize there are other opinions among the group members.
The time out hand signal is a wonderful tool if used correctly, as described above. If used with a heavy hand or followed by ridicule then significant damage to trust is being done. It is up to leaders to set the tone for the correct usage so the method will be a way to enhance trust and transparency over time.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language” by Bob Whipple “The Trust Ambassador.”
The body language gesture of rolling the eyes is very well known. It normally means a kind of exasperation with what has been said or done.
There are several subtle shades of the gesture that are worth noting.
Another word for rolling eyes is “shrugging” the eyes. It is a common form of disapproval or sarcasm.
When done between coworkers at a meeting, it is usually a kind of inside joke where one person is silently mocking a third party to a friend. The idea here is “Can you believe this idiot?”
The key point here is that the gesture is not intended to be seen by the object of the comment. It is between the two other people.
The secretive nature of the gesture can have a negative effect on the culture of the group. It is similar to talking behind another person’s back.
Children rolling eyes
Children and youth often use the gesture to indicate how clueless they believe their parents are. If you want to have some fun, try rolling your eyes back at a child who uses this gesture.
Of course, you risk escalating the matter, but at least for a moment the kid may not know how to respond. It is like you are mocking the kid for mocking you. The kid is saying “clueless parent” and you respond with “clueless child.”
There is a very slight version of this body language signal that can mean the person is having a hard time understanding a point. This gesture can often take the form of a sideways glance rather that the classic upward look.
Actors and comedians
Two comedians who used eye rolling effectively were Rodney Dangerfield and Foster Brooks. With Dangerfield, it was often associated with the “no respect” line. Brooks used the gesture as something like incredulous. I recall one roast where Foster was honoring Dean Martin, and he said, “Dean’s dream was to be a great singer.” Then he rolled his eyes, “Like that was ever going to happen.”
How to stop someone from eye rolling
One effective way to eliminate eye rolling in a professional setting is to call people on it when you catch them. Suppose someone is fond of rolling her eyes in your staff meetings as she sits across the table from a cynical coworker.
Simply stop the conversation and address the person rolling her eyes and say, “Are you mocking me?” That puts the person on the spot and will often halt the practice.
Use in negotiations
Eye rolling is often used during negotiations to indicate that the offer just put on the table has no credibility. A good negotiator will pick just the right moment to use the gesture for maximum impact.
Eye rolling can be fleeting and more like a micro-expression, but the impact can be just as great. As long as the other person sees the gesture, the message has been received.
Eye rolling is often used to express impatience. You might see the gesture in a long line waiting to buy tickets to a show. At one point one person will turn to his partner and roll his eyes to indicate frustrations with the slow movement of the line.
Try to avoid using the eye roll yourself, especially in a professional setting. It often has a negative connotation and sometimes works to reduce trust within a group. However, the gesture is not always negative.The exact meaning is situational and can be perfectly fine when used between friends as a humorous way to make a point.
When eye rolling is used with sarcasm, it often reduces trust. Mocking other people in public normally creates a negative backlash because it is almost always intended as a put down. If something seems a little over the top, find a verbal way to express your frustration rather than rolling your eyes.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on https://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.TheTrust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations.
A very powerful form of body language is actually associated with a verbal behavior. It has to do with the lack of expected verbal output called silence.
Skilled speakers know that when they really need the audience’s attention, they simply have to stop talking for several seconds and all eyes will be on them.
The reason is that when people are subjected to a drone of input, they can mentally check out of the conversation and think about something else, like what to cook for dinner, or what they need to buy at the store.
Most people can think at a rate from 3-6 times faster that people can speak, so there is a lot of excess mental capacity. If they are multitasking and listening to the spoken words while day dreaming about other things, they will be shocked when the background noise simply stops.
Skilled negotiators know that the silent treatment will often gain a concession from the other person. This is because most people can tolerate a break in the point counter-point for only a few seconds before they become extremely uncomfortable.
I learned how powerful silence is in a negotiation I had with a Japanese executive, decades ago. I had just completed The Chester Karrass Negotiating Course, so when the Japanese executive tried to use the silent treatment on me, I knew the technique and was able to reverse the logic.
We were haggling about the price of a large supply of components. I wanted to pay no more than 41 cents per piece, and he was stuck at 44 cents. I told him I had to get 41 cents and he just went silent. Since it was his turn to talk, I just let the silence settle between us and calmly looked into his eyes.
At first, he had a look of confidence because he knew that most Westerners cannot tolerate silence for more than about 30 seconds. I just watched his face and stared back at him.
Over the next minute or two, I saw a remarkable transition in his body language. First, I could see he knew I was aware of his trick, but it was his turn to talk.
Then I watched as his blinking rate go up by 100% and small beads of sweat appear on his forehead. I knew that the Japanese hate conflict in negotiations, so I was blissfully watching his stress level go through the roof. Finally, he lowered his head and muttered, “Okay, 41 it is.” He had been defeated by his own tactic.
When most people get excited or want to make a key point, they raise their volume and talk faster. We have learned to expect that behavior from a person who is somehow agitated. It is a shock if instead of louder and faster, they hear lower and slower or even silence altogether.
This ploy is often effective when buying a car from a dealer. If it is your turn to talk, just try saying nothing and count the seconds until the salesman starts talking again. Keep quiet and see if a concession is coming your way.
One precaution on using silence to gain leverage: if the other person knows the game, you can get caught like my Japanese friend did. Since it was his turn to talk, I could simply out wait him and let the stress he had intended for me boomerang back on him. If you have ever tried to do a staring contest with another individual, you know how hard it can be to keep silent for more than a minute.
If you are speaking to a group, try an occasional few seconds of silence to keep people focused on your content. You will find it to be more powerful that you can imagine. If someone tries to throw you off with a silent treatment, simply wait the person out, and you can often reverse the outcome.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Body Language.” The entire series can be viewed on https://www.leadergrow.com/articles/categories/35-body-language or on this blog.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.TheTrust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 600 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or 585.392.7763
Supervisors do a lot more negotiating than they may realize. My observation is that supervisors negotiate all day every day.
If you want to be a more effective supervisor, study up on your negotiating skills.
For most supervisors, negotiations usually involve resources. Obtaining the right level of staffing or a specific piece of test equipment would be typical negotiation discussions.
Also, the budgeting process is always a time of great challenge for most supervisors.
In the day-to-day activities of the operation, getting people to do the right thing at the right time is a form of negotiation challenge. If the standard break time is 15 minutes, how are you going to get people to adhere to the rule?
This article highlights some tips I have learned over the years in courses and in practical applied leadership in a large organization. Before sharing some tips, let me dispel a myth; negotiating is not a win or lose situation.
Great negotiators realize that to reach an agreement, both parties need to believe the deal in question is better for them than no deal at all. Both parties must “win” to have a successful outcome, although both individuals may not get everything they wanted.
Basic Negotiation Principles
The objective of any negotiation is to reach a fair deal that is not abusive to either party, and it is accomplished by a process of discovery and revelation.
Let’s first look at a few basic principles and then describe some of the more popular negotiation tactics and their countermeasures.
1. You have more power than you think you have
Human beings have a habit of undervaluing their hand and overvaluing the hand of their opponent. Information is power in any negotiation, so seek to understand as much as possible the forces that are putting pressure on your opponent.
Withhold some of the critical points about your own situation so the other person is not aware of your constraints.
For example, if you share a time constraint that you need an agreement by the end of the day, your opponent can use that pressure to make you compromise just before quitting time.
Know as much about your opponent’s constraints as you can; and be judicious with sharing things that are impacting you.
2. Plan your strategy
In any negotiation, if you have a plan you will do better than if you play defense and simply react to the offers made by the other party.
It is amazing how many supervisors will go into a negotiation and simply “wing it” to see what the other person is proposing before formulating an offense.
There is going to be some give and take going on in any deal. Be flexible to move off an original plan if conditions warrant it, but at least have a null hypothesis or case to beat before going in.
3. Leave room for the other person to win
We all know that if we want to sell a car ultimately for $1000, it is best to price it at something like $1300 at the outset. This allows the seller to make some concessions and still arrive at an acceptable end point.
Recognize that both parties will be playing the same game on opposite sides, so test the validity of any offers along the way. Do not take at face value any statement made by the other person. Assume there is a lot more latitude available than the other person is willing to share initially.
4. Identify your “walk away” position and be prepared to use it
Your opponent will seek to maneuver you into a position that may be untenable. Identify beforehand what you are not willing to settle for, and do not budge off that position. The walk away technique is often very effective at gaining a concession.
5. Look for win-win and compromise ideas
Always ask, “What else will do the job here?” This technique is particularly useful when you seem to have reached an impasse.
Simply step back and look at the roadblock from a higher perspective.Often there can be a better solution that has not even been considered.
For example, suppose the supervisor is negotiating with another supervisor trying to transfer a key resource into her crew. The other supervisor is intransigent and the discussion gets heated. The supervisor might break the impasse by volunteering to take on some difficult tasks from her opponent.
Now let’s take a look at some typical negotiating tactics that people use. View these ideas as both offensive strategies but also be aware that they may be used against you and pay attention to the countermeasures, if you need them.
1. Use of time
Time is the ultimate scarce resource, and smart negotiators use it to gain advantage in a negotiation.
For example, if the supervisor is not having much luck selling her yearly budget to her manager, she might schedule a meeting with the manager to discuss the details.
When she arrives, she could mention that she has set aside three hours to go over the details of the budget for full understanding. This would normally put time pressure on the manager, or he could turn it around to put time pressure on her.
A good countermeasure for time pressure is to reverse the logic. In this case the manager might say to the supervisor, “Oh this is too important to limit the discussion to just three hours; I am prepared to work with you all day, if necessary.”
2. Good guy/Bad guy
This tactic is a version of the good cop/bad cop technique when interrogating a suspect. The bad cop is nasty and aggressive when interviewing the suspect, but the good cop comes in and is much more reasonable and often gains a confession.
Whenever you are dealing with more than one person, be aware of the tendency to use this technique to gain leverage.
The antidote to this tactic is to call the people on it directly. Say something like, “You guys seem to be playing good cop/ bad cop, and that doesn’t work at all with me.”
3. The Bogy
A bogy is a statement that we simply do not have the resources to give, so the point is moot. Suppose a supervisor is approached by a manager who insists that she loan the services of a mechanic for the remainder of the shift.
She could use the bogy and say, “But I only have one mechanic on duty today, and loaning her to you would leave me with no way to fix my equipment.” The implication is that I would like to help you, but the well is dry.
The most common bogy in any organization is the budget. Suppose the supervisor needs a new optical comparator for her inspection operation. She goes to her boss with her request and he says, “I would love to help you, but that is simply not in the budget.”
The countermeasure to a bogy is to point out the reality of a false constraint. The supervisor might say, “I know it is not in the current budget, but we need the comparator to do our job. Besides the budget is just an initial guess we made out at the start of the year. Surely we can move some items around in the budget when we need to, or maybe we have to overrun our budget this year and factor that in next year.”
4. Use of silence
Silence is an effective tactic in any negotiation. In western society, people become very nervous when the other party just stops talking.
We tolerate silence for about 30 seconds and then simply have to fill the void with some words, often they are concessions. If you are at loggerheads with another person, just stop talking and watch the person squirm.
The countermeasure to the silent treatment is to refuse to break the silence. After a while the stress will shift onto the other person.
I used this measure when negotiating with a Japanese businessman, and it worked like a charm. It was his turn to counter offer, but he just stopped talking.
Because I know the tactic, I just sat and looked at him, since it was his turn to speak. At first he thought he had me on the ropes, but after 2-3 minutes of silence, he realized I had out-silenced him and he made the concession.
Try this little trick with a car dealer sometime. It’s a riot, and it really works. Very few people can make it beyond one minute of silence.
5. Breaking an impasse
You will occasionally reach an impasse situation where it seems there are no further options. When this happens, simply change the time shape of money.
We are used to the logic in everyday life but often forget the tactic at work. You say “I cannot afford $10,000 for that car.” I ask if you can afford $5,000 and you agree to that figure. So I counter with “OK let’s do $5,000 now and $1,000 a month for 5 months.”
These are some of the more common negotiation tactics and the countermeasures. Make sure you are alert to when others are trying to use these on you and do hone your skill at using them effectively yourself.
This is a part in a series of articles on “Successful Supervision.” The entire series can be viewed on http://www.leadergrow.com/articles/supervision or on this blog.
Bob Whipple, MBA, CPLP, is a consultant, trainer, speaker, and author in the areas of leadership and trust. He is the author of four books: 1.The Trust Factor: Advanced Leadership for Professionals (2003), 2. Understanding E-Body Language: Building Trust Online (2006), 3. Leading with Trust is Like Sailing Downwind (2009), and 4. Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change (2014). In addition, he has authored over 500 articles and videos on various topics in leadership and trust. Bob has many years as a senior executive with a Fortune 500 Company and with non-profit organizations. For more information, or to bring Bob in to speak at your next event, contact him at http://www.Leadergrow.com, email@example.com or 585.392.7763
When you come into a car dealer for the third time to look at the same car, that dealer has a significant advantage. He or she knows you have invested significant time into this deal and will be willing to compromise a lot on price.
There are many examples of using time and personal energy as a tactic in negotiations, I will share a couple examples from my own history to illustrate how this works and how you can thwart others who would use time trying to get advantage over you. These ideas were also presented in my book, “Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change.”
I recall one situation where a CEO was contemplating the purchase of a diversified company with offices all over the world. The selling CEO wanted to impress the buying CEO with how things work in the fast lane, so he arranged a trip around the world to visit every site as part of the due diligence.
The idea was to exhaust the buying CEO so that he would cave in during the negotiation. The seller even took along two assistants so they could relieve each other and have an unfair advantage. The ploy totally backfired.
I was present when the selling CEO came back from the week-long journey. He looked completely exhausted. His comment was, “Where did they get that guy? He ran rings around us and always came up smiling. We were absolutely dead on our feet.” So, what was intended as a ploy to gain the advantage turned into a liability for the seller.
The secret was that the buying CEO was a master at sleeping on airplanes and in taxis. He could get good quality sleep on every leg of the trip, while all three of the opponents could only sleep a little and did not get much rest for the entire week.
I recall another situation where one party tried to gain leverage using time, and that also backfired. This was a negotiation for a product line made in Japan. The principal, I’ll call him Don, flew over from the United States to negotiate a deal and was scheduled to stay for a week. He was outnumbered, of course, and was a guest on their home turf.
That was a big advantage for the Japanese, who decided to put time pressure on Don. They dragged their feet and brought up all kinds of small issues to avoid the financial negotiations until the final day.
The Japanese host said they found out which flight my friend was going to take so they could get him to the Narita Airport on time, but they actually they got the flight information to know when Don would be getting anxious to close the deal and head home.
At around 10 a.m., the Japanese host asked for a major price concession and stated, “We have been talking now for five days, and it is time for you to show some flexibility. Besides, we have to get going within an hour to get you to Narita on time.”
Don did a masterful reversal when he said,
“Oh, let’s not rush this deal. It is too important; I’m prepared to stay for another week, if necessary, so we can get this right.”
All of a sudden the time pressure was on the other side.
The Japanese host had been entertaining Don every night, and it would take him almost two hours to get home after he dropped Don off at his hotel. He was exhausted and wanted my friend out of his hair, yet Don claimed he was willing to stay for an additional week. The Japanese host quickly made a huge concession, and Don still stayed the extra week to hammer out the details.
The use of time in the negotiation process is always important, and good negotiators find ways to leverage this important consideration. Here are five tips that will help you improve your negotiating effectiveness regarding the use of time.
1. Be more aware of how time is working for or against you during the entire process, not just at the negotiating table.
2. Consider the element of time as a competitive weapon to use strategically and carefully to improve your changes for an excellent result.
3. If your counterpart is trying to use time against you, work to reverse the logic and have it work against the other party. It is fun to see the look on their face when they realize the dynamic has been overturned.
4. Do not telegraph your own anxiety relative to time. Make gestures like you have all the time in the world.
5. When you sense anxiety in the other party, slow down the process to gain leverage.
At the end of the day, the negotiation rests on human beings who have physical and mental limitations. Use the strategies above to enhance your negotiating success, and also use them to be alert to the tactics that others may be using on you.
Is it possible to make major organizational transitions without catastrophic loss of trust? I think there is, but the odds are against you unless you change the conventional thinking process. What is required is a new approach toward navigating organizational change.
My new book, Trust in Transition: Navigating Organizational Change, will be launched on August 18, 2014 by ASTD Press and is currently available for preorder.
The book is about how organizations must do a better job of preserving and enhancing trust when they go through changes such as reorganizations, mergers, acquisitions, or other restructurings.
Your purchase of the book includes access to a set of videos that enhance several of the key points.
There are numerous books on managing change, and many books and articles on M&As. My book is unique in that it focuses on the actions and behaviors needed to maintain the vital trust between people and organizational layers during the process of change.
A link between trust and organizational performance has been demonstrated in numerous studies. The correlation is strong, and the leverage offered by high trust is impressive. Most studies show a two to five times productivity benefit in high trust groups over low trust groups.
Can you name any other single factor that can offer a 200% improvement in productivity?
When organizations contemplate changes, the manner in which the effort is planned, organized, announced, managed, and led has everything to do with the impact on trust.
Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the changes end up having a profound negative impact on the culture just when trust is needed the most. This condition ends up undermining the change effort and leads to a documented dismal track record of almost 80% of transitions not living up to expectations.
Thankfully, failure can be avoided by taking steps right from the start of a change process to act differently and prevent problems from occurring. The old adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds true for this situation.
If some changes in mindset can be accomplished from the earliest plans for a change, the ability to retain or even grow trust during change is possible.
My book is about how to break the cycle of change failure by focusing as much effort on the cultural integration as on the mechanical parts of the change process.
Unfortunately many leaders have had professional training in the MBA schools that emphasizes the mechanical aspects of the change process such as negotiation, due diligence, financial valuation, or legal implications.
These subjects are critical in transitions, but they should not squeeze out the considerations of how to get people to work well together during and after the transition.
The focus on the financial and legal implications of a change are forced on center stage, and what ends up back in the wings is the fragile culture of trust between people in the organization. That is a problem, because the end result is a change effort that works well on paper but often fails to meet expectations in the real world.
The book contains dozens of areas where leaders unwittingly make errors in judgment which undermine the changes all along the way. By following a parallel path that works just as hard on the culture as the deal, leaders can greatly improve the odds of success.
I will provide a series of articles on this blog over the next few months that look at different aspects of the change process to suggest pragmatic antidotes to common problems.
Investing more leadership attention to the culture early in the change process will have a profound positive impact on the success rate.
I hope you find the tips I offer in the book and in future articles to be helpful at preserving trust in your organization. Nothing could be more vital for your ultimate success.