In the book Successful Negotiating (Career Press, 1998), Ginny Pearson Barnes makes the most of 118 pages to show how you can create longterm payoffs without leaving your opponent sprawled in the dust. Barnes emphasizes understanding the other side, as opposed to treating negotiation as an ego-driven “war” that you must “win.”
Barnes appreciates the power of nonverbal behavior. She claims that body language communicates 97 percent of your message. By nodding, leaning toward the other person and maintaining an open, nonthreatening posture, you can break down barriers and chip away at resistance.
But Barnes realizes negotiating can lead to conflict. She warns you to avoid “red flag” words that escalate tension. Examples: can’t, but, never. Instead, she suggests good comeback lines when you’re under fire:
When someone yells at you:
I prefer that you speak in a softer voice because I can listen better to what you’re saying.
When someone threatens to walk out:
I’d like you to stay because we have something important to talk about.
When someone attacks your authority:
I’d prefer that we concentrate on the issue rather than on me, because that is what we are trying to resolve.
The reason such phrases work well is they let you state your preferences rather than lash out. And they help you stay calm while safely expressing some honest feelings.