November 14, 2008 by Canadian Underwriter
Listening is key in the art of negotiation and a technique most people fail to adhere to, Gordon Kirke, lawyer, principal KSR Sports Representatives Inc., told delegates at the third annual Arc Group Seminar in Toronto on Thursday.
Kirke spoke on the need to listen to what the other party is saying and asking for when involved in insurance negotiations.
While the skills of negotiation are very basic and very fundamental, you never know it all and you never know enough, he noted, adding that he continuously attends seminars on negotiation, despite teaching negotiating skills himself.
The best negotiation tactic that Kirke learned was from his grandmother who told him, “God gave you two ears and only one mouth for a reason; you should listen about twice as much as you talk.”
Sometimes people are so anxious to hear themselves speak, they can end up cutting off the other person and potentially missing the key to finalizing the agreement.
“For me, the most important principle and there are many important [ones], preparation goes without saying, obviously, but for me listening is the one most often breached by people involved in negotiation,” Kirke said.
“If you you’re smart, you let them mutter, because amongst all that mutter you’re going to find something that could be the key, the solution, to getting a deal done” he said, adding it could be the solution to finalizing the negotiation.
Another key strategy is to keep in mind that you are remembered for your last negotiation, Kirke said.
“Set your own standards and principles,” he said. “Competitive desire is a good thing, but not if you have to lie.”
In addition, knowing how to close and when to close and when to say enough’s enough is key, he added. There are many people who are great at the “wining and dining, but can’t close the deal.”
Oftentimes negotiations tend to get emotional, Kirke said. This is a good time to call a break, step away from the situation and come back when emotions are settled. Come back to the table and figure out what you are trying to achieve and what the other party is trying to achieve and figure out what is hindering an agreement. By continuing to keep the lines of communication open, you’ve got a shot at reaching an agreement, Kirke said.