Negotiation is a critical skill needed for success in business and life in general. There may come a time when you need to ask for a raise in your salary, promotion, or more time off.
As a professional, you need to be able to open deals and close them.
However, for an introvert, this might be one of their Achilles’ heel. Being naturally analytical and reflective, they are always looking for a way to avoid face-to-face interactions, especially in situations where they have to be assertive.
Author Susan Cain refers to introverts as “Accommodators”. They would rather throw in the towel than continue to sweat it out. In the event of an argument or conflict, they are already on the lookout for the next escape route.
Moreover, there are numerous benefits hidden in this personality type. Little things do not normally distract introverts, preferring to focus on the weightier matters. They are lovers and seekers of peace naturally, which is quite good during negotiations.
Since they are mostly non-talkers, whenever they talk, people take them seriously.
In this article, we have outlined five extraordinary ways for introverts to become world-class negotiators.
1. Learn to ask (open-ended questions)
There is enormous power in asking. A biblical passage lends credence to the notion of asking and receiving. Introverts would rather not ask, but when you muster the courage to make a request, the person at the other end of the table tends to take you seriously.
You don’t merely ask; you support your request with facts and research.
A study released by the Harvard Business Review showed that men earn more on average than their female counterparts simply because they had the courage to ask for more.
Fifty-seven percent of male graduates requested a higher amount than they were initially offered. But, only 7% of female graduates did the same. This does not suggest that all women are introverts; while all men are extroverts.
However, it does suggest that adopting a firm demeanor during negotiations, which is often characterized as a male trait, is advised.
A good suggestion is to ask open-ended questions. Typically, these questions need an explanation. They are not “yes” or “no” questions. These questions can help you detect the motivations and priorities of the other person.
2. Gather all necessary facts
It is important to spend a sufficient amount of time doing some research before you step into a negotiation room. As an introvert, you need to arm yourself with facts and data. This will give you more confidence to base your request on reality instead of fiction or hearsay.
Knowledge is power, especially in negotiations, because facts strengthen arguments.
If you are asking for a raise in your salary, check out the industry standard and the market realities. What are similar companies paying? What are the other employees in the company being paid?
Are you going for a business deal or an equipment purchase? Find out what other contemporary companies have done in similar situations. What are the prevailing market prices?
You need your confidence at an all-time high to prevent recoiling into your shell. By planning and preparing, you will give your confidence a huge boost.
3. Set your best and worst-case scenarios
You need to determine your best and worst-case scenarios before you start negotiations to prevent on-the-spot thinking. Introverts are not used to thinking under tension; they simply balk and give in. To avoid this situation, you need to prepare.
What is the highest value that you can get if everything turns out perfectly? What will the other person get out of it? Do you have what it takes to deliver in such situations?
In most cases, always seek a win-win situation in which everyone receives something valuable from the deal.
Now, what is the lowest point that you can take before you walk out? In certain instances, walking out may be the best thing. Yet, you must set your “bottom line” before you walk in.
Failure to do this might force you to agree to a deal you might regret later. The last thing you want is to be a doormat or pushover who accepts anything.
4. Choose your words
Words are the tools with which you succeed or fail in negotiations. Hence, you must watch your language and carefully select your words.
Your words determine how the other person sees, perceives, and evaluates your credibility and confidence.
Below are some words you should avoid at all costs during negotiation:
-“Probably.” Using this word shows uncertainty or guesswork. You need to be definitive and assertive when talking.
-“Kinda.” This is like “probably” in that it signifies you are unsure of what you are saying.
-“Just.” Using this word trivializes your next statement. It depletes the life out of your sentences and makes them minimal. Steer clear of such statements.
-“Should.” It tries to place responsibility on the other person, forcing them to do something. Nobody likes being forced, not even you.
-“Think or feel.” Saying “I think” or “I feel” shifts the focus from the subject matter to your subjective opinions, instead of factual justifications. Rather than saying, “I think this amount is lower than average,” say, “Based on this market study, this amount is lower than average.”
5. Learn to pause
This is one of the most powerful tools in the arsenal of a negotiating introvert—a carefully inserted silence. You are thoughtful and quiet, use it to your advantage.
This is especially useful when the other person makes a ridiculous offer. A strategic silence can make the other negotiator review what he has said. Moreover, it makes you look more composed and confident.
When you make an offer as well, placing a pause can be very effective. It might prompt the person to elaborate a point, make another comment, or reveal their hidden thoughts.
A good tip is to pause before responding to questions or arguments. Don’t rush to fill in the voids. Take your time to reflect, even if it is just for a few seconds.
It is important to note that as an introvert, your personality might serve you effectively when going into a negotiation.
Introverts can become world-class negotiators when they plan ahead and practice their plans.
Babcock, L., et al. (2003). Nice girls don’t ask. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from: https://hbr.org/2003/10/nice-girls-dont-ask.
Cain, S. (2011). 8 Negotiation tips for introverts. Susan Cain. Retrieved from: http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/2011/02/02/8-negotiation-tips-for-introverts-from-my-seminar-at-the-harvard-club.
Patkar, M. (2014). Use a “Pained Pause” for a better offer in negotiations. Lifehacker. Retrieved from: https://lifehacker.com/use-a-pained-pause-for-a-better-offer-in-negotiations-1587966438.