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Acquiring Good Negotiating Listening Skills

Every negotiator needs good information and must understand fully what they hear from the
counterpart speaker to enhance their negotiating style.

'Do you hear what I hear?' That's the flashing, neon question mark isn't it? When people, and this
includes negotiators, gather together after hearing someone else speak, you often hear dissimilar
versions about what they heard. People digest what other people tell them and provide their own
unique interpretation about what was said to them. It sometimes makes you wonder whether we
are speaking the same language.

If someone were to tell you that you have to hone-up on your listening skills, you would
probably stare wide eyed at the person in disbelief. It probably sounds idiotic to suggest we need
to learn how to listen effectively. You'd think that your hearing was one of the five senses you've
been using since the cradle, so how in the world can anyone even bother to waste your time, by
telling you that you need to listen properly? You'd be amazed how much we need to sharpen this
simple skill, to boost our negotiating powers. Let's see how we can improve our negotiating
skills by really examining the listening process in minute detail.

What does listening mean?
First, listening is actually broken down into 2 specific functions. The first obvious function is the
reception portion where we receive the message from the person speaking.

The second function of listening is how we decode or interpret the message that we receive. This
is the tricky one.

Three categories of listening have been identified. All of us actively engage in these three forms
of listening when someone is speaking to us, but we need to dissect them so we will effectively
take advantage of the total process.

1) Passive Listening

Just as the phrase implies, we sit there like a sponge and absorb the message from the sender
without any form of active engagement. We do not acknowledge what is being said to us, nor do
we provide any feedback that we are absorbing.

Clearly, this underscores the importance of paying attention when we are listening. This
strikingly illustrates why a negotiator should not be distracted by looking over or rifling through
their notes and files, and not giving the speaker their full and undivided attention.

We are being disrespectful to the speaker when we allow other things to distract us. Distractions
will also cause us to miss some important information, or misunderstand a key section of the
message. Listening requires single-mindedness and concentration.

How else can this blaringly, but obvious titbit be of use to us?

or 'I see'. It is very possible and not unlikely that the person may begin a one way dialogue. positions or beliefs about something. not having got a satisfactory response from him. It simply means that we provide a sign of recognition to the speaker. consider this possibility . This will give the speaker validity and the confidence that their message is reaching us. Physical responses. saying 'mm-hmm. The talkative negotiator can no longer tolerate the silence and will begin to add or provide more information.'.' You re-phrase it back to the speaker by saying ' You are really stymied on this issue. and should perhaps be addressed immediately before proceeding further. is remain silent and stare at the person expectantly.Well. This technique is also referred to as ' The pregnant pause'. by sending them subtle messages. This signifies that important issues are being resisted or disputed. we might hear the speaker say something like ' I am particularly puzzled about how we are going to resolve the distribution conflict. 2) Acknowledgement Listening This is the second form of listening. They need to fill in a lengthy silence gap with conversation. It involves a slightly more active role in the listening process. all we have to do is to stay silent. For example. are essentially applied when they make personal reference to their feelings.there are people who cannot tolerate long silences. Other physical signals to show that we are tracking the relevant points. include nodding our head. but in a slightly different manner. it is imperative we make eye contact with the speaker as much as possible. ' I hear you . We can learn valuable information and perhaps enhance our agreement. 3) Active Listening The final form of receiving the counterparty's message. During the listening process. we commiserate with the speaker which acts as a bond or an abstract pat on the back as if to say.' The majority of times that we use reflective statements. When we encounter this sort of person in a negotiation situation. involves verbal participation and is also referred to as 'reflective responding'. This type of negotiator is also susceptible to speak when. this process repeats the phrase back to the speaker by re-phrasing what was just said. all on their own. or divulge information that we can use to our advantage. Our negotiating counterparty may even talk themselves.I understand.' . to show that we are involved in the listening process. or by making other physical gestures such as grinning at a pun. Basically. We accomplish this by telegraphing physical signals to the narrator. all you need to do. This is a visual clue that is a form of positive engagement and encourages the person who is speaking. also informs the speaker whether we disagree with their position. In a sense. They simply can't keep quiet. like frowning or shaking our head. into either accepting or deciding against a position.

'Negotiation'. Neale.This type of active listening allows us to follow the speaker. (2001). without pressuring them. M. Sauders. 2nd Edition. we signal to the speaker that we are fully and actively engaged in the communication process by responding to their feelings. Prentice Hall Business Publishing. Having more information at our disposal.(1994). Lewicki. Litterer. Margaret A. Additionally.Minton. The Free Press - MacMillian. At the same time enabling us to learn more about their positions and business objectives. 2. W. 1. 'Negotiating Rationally'. that we can use to our benefit and possible advantage. Summary The listening process described above does not mean or suggest a negotiator should remain passive. J. Irwin. It is meant to allow us to gain valuable information. also allows us to fully develop our own negotiating strategy. Max H. 3. A. . Bazerman. 'The Heart and Mind of the Negotiator-2nd Edition'. while permitting us to further explore this line of thought in greater detail. We have our own business objectives and positions to put forward and defend. Leigh Thompson. (1992).