Negotiating in Life , Negotiating Tips , Negotiation Strategies , Business Negotiation June 23, 2010

Active Listening -- A negotiator's best tool.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like this: “To listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation” Basically, in any conversation or discussion or negotiation, listening is just as important, or even more important, than talking. It is about having an exchange...

There is a Chinese proverb that goes something like this:

“To listen well is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well, and is as essential to all true conversation”

Basically, in any conversation or discussion or negotiation, listening is just as important, or even more important, than talking. It is about having an exchange. It is about understanding what the other person is saying.

On Negotiation Space, we have discussed the importance of listening during a business negotiation. We came across an interview with former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, on CIO New Zealand, where he says that active listening is the key to any negotiation.

Voss, who was the lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI until his retirement in 2007, says the following:

“You want to use it to gather information. You need to find out everything you possibly can through the negotiation process. You've got to take all of your assumptions and test them.”

The key to gathering information effectively is the process of active listening. To listen actively, you need to be doing more than just hearing what the other party is saying.

Active listening requires the following:

• Show your interest
• Pay careful attention
• Repeat back what the other person has said to indicate your understanding
• Be empathetic
• Avoid “why” questions and ask open-ended questions instead
• Use effective pauses, that is, give the other party a chance to talk more


Do you use active listening? What techniques of active listening are the most effective for you?
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