The business world puts a lot of emphasis on knowing how to talk. This emphasis can make certain aspects of the entrepreneurial world daunting for an introvert. Negotiation skills can feel like overwrought drama when compared with the plain-speaking findings of research and investigation. And, on top of that, many people view negotiation as a combat-like confrontation.
No one should be surprised, however, that introverts are among the most successful entrepreneurs. This is, in part, due to a strong ability to focus, prioritize, and work to accomplish goals in solitary settings without interruptions. Furthermore, introverts can be among the most powerful negotiators when they harness just a few strategies.
Before you go into the meeting, find out everything you can. This is likely an intuitive step, since most introverts won’t rely solely on their people skills to gain ground in negotiation. It is, nonetheless, necessary.
You can begin preparing by outlining what you want and need out of the negotiation. But that’s often the easy part. Once you know what you want, try to understand what the other person in the conversation needs or wants. Research any pressure that they might be under, and find out any personal inclinations and business-related principles that will influence their decisions.
Try to pinpoint their various options prior to going in. The more you know about the people you’re negotiating with, the more likely it is for you to reach a favorable agreement.
Ideally, you’ll build your negotiation toward a mutually beneficial deal. By knowing what the other side needs, you can view the negotiation less like a battle, and more like an arrangement that serves common interests.
Practice talking about what you want from negotiating. This might mean having someone close to you do a mock negotiation, or more informally explaining to someone what you’re looking to gain. Simply the act of verbalizing what you need and bringing it out in the open will make it easier to talk about.
When we hold our feelings and needs inside, they can often seem bigger and more unapproachable than they really are. Get it out once, and you can do it again and again.
Depending on the person, basic negotiation pointers such as eye-contact and confrontation can cause feelings of anxiety. Making eye contact establishes a person-to-person connection and makes you look confident, even if you don’t feel it.
When you go into a negotiation, expect the best outcome and remain optimistic. Since you have done your homework on the pressures influencing the other negotiators, you have all the information you need to take a reasonable stance.
Use Your Listening Skills
Talkers are often caught up in thinking about the next thing that they want to say, even while the other person in the conversation is talking.
Introverts, on the other hand, will often have the advantage of listening more thoroughly, and therefore being able to respond accordingly. This may make them seem more distant from the issues being discussed than someone who is more likely to speak from excitement, but it is ultimately more thoughtful and respectful.
If the conversation feels like it might be halting, ask open-ended questions, so that you can understand where the other negotiator is coming from.
Take Your Time
If you’re an introvert, taking your time during negotiation might be something that you struggle with. This might not be because you’re impatient, but instead, because you feel anxious in the social setting.
Practice the pacing of your words so that you aren’t rushing through. You can make yourself more at ease by allowing yourself more time than you think you need for this negotiation. The more rushed you are, the more likely you are to make mistakes. Someone who is in more of a hurry will be more likely to make concessions in the effort to close the deal.
If you feel the conversation taking a turn or feel yourself losing your edge, take a pause and remember your strength. Quiet moments in the midst of a negotiation can create a good space for all members to reorganize their thoughts and take a breather.
This is a particularly useful strategy in a negotiation that has heightened in intensity or emotion. When people feel pushed to bend to the emotions of others, they might stubbornly stand their ground and fight, blinded to the common ground that they share. Taking a pause could reset the tension so that the negotiation can return to an attempt to find an agreement.
In some cases, when the terms are generally favorable but are starting to feel more set, you can ask for a long pause, something along the lines of taking up to three days to think it over. This might set in motion another closing settlement, or it could buy you time to decide.
Negotiation is one of those rare times when an introvert’s natural inclination to eschew small talk might be more welcome than the alternative.
Conventional negotiation advice is to ask for what you want. The introvert’s instinct for being direct is helpful in this case. Instead of worrying about padding your conversation with niceties and small-talk, spend some time clarifying your demands. Clarity will help you remain level even if you open with an extreme position.
Get Back on the Horse
It’s important not to take the tones and actions of people while negotiating personally. Many people put on a show for these situations, and the failure to close a deal is not a condemnation of your personal character.
One of the many strengths of introverts is the decreased need for affirmation from others. However, all people have their strengths, and those strengths are the things that we need the least affirmation for.
If social skills and negotiation are something that you perceive as a personal weakness, then it’s only fair that you would feel the need for more external affirmation when it comes to these skills, introverted or otherwise.
Entrepreneurs frequently face failure and rejection, and these are not personal judgments. Don’t let yourself get hung up on a bad negotiation. Celebrate everything, the good and the bad, and find a way to learn and keep moving.
Don’t Try to Be Someone Else
Most importantly, allow your own strengths to help you build your confidence. Your authenticity is more likely to inspire confidence during negotiation than by mimicking the behaviors of someone that you consider to be an extrovert.
If you’re feeling stressed about upcoming negotiating, it might be because you’re equating stepping outside of your comfort zone with acting like someone completely different. Instead, know what you need, so that you can embrace and utilize those parts of yourself that are steady and confident.