The Second 7 of the Luckiest 13 Communication Tips in Negotiation

Communication is the stage upon which the negotiation drama is played out. Listening and speaking are the literal nuts and bolts of communication but they are accompanied by the more mysterious figurative elements of body language and an open mind. Mastery of both the figurative and the literal is essential to negotiate effectively. The open mind brings a bonanza of techniques that are beyond the reach of our closed minded brethren.

Communication is the stage upon which the negotiation drama is played out. Listening and speaking are the literal nuts and bolts of communication. Here are the second seven tips of how to communicate better in negotiation.

7—–Reflective response

This technique recognizes that two or more people can hear the same words and come to different conclusion as to what was said. If you don’t think it is possible for two people to hear the same words, know the individual meanings of the words, yet come to vastly different conclusions, consult someone who is married for a second opinion.

Not only do individual words have different meanings but usage varies, some people speak poorly and our own prejudices get in the way on clear communications. If someone says OJ, your response would include the words orange juice. If they meant O J Simpson, your reflective response would clear that up before you got any further down field. The use of the reflective response in tandem with the ‘I’ statement are some of the most plentiful and powerful negotiation techniques you will deploy.

We can sometimes be confused by the tone of voice or individual delivery styles. For this reason, it is advisable to question the speaker about intent rather than impart our own meaning. For instance, suppose someone says, “Well that’s just great.” The meaning could be literal or it could be the sarcastic opposite. The tone may be used by the speaker to indicate frustration, disgust, anger, pride, or other conclusions. Such statements call for open ended questions on the part of the listener. Fortunately, the spoken words of our verbal language leave clues of the speaker’s meaning independent of the tone.

Verbal clues come unexpectedly. Let’s take them on in the same staccato style in which we are likely to encounter them. Keep your ears attuned to these words when they pop up in negotiations because they usually signal important meanings or information that is worth pursuing.


The ‘but’ word is a verbal eraser of everything that comes before it. How many times have you heard interlopers jump in with the prefaced excuse, “I am no expert on that, but“…What is the next sentence out of that person’s mouth likely to proclaim to the world? He is ready to demonstrate what an expert he really is, irrespective of qualifications. As my father loved to say, “Why ruin a good argument with facts?”

The use of ‘but’ may also send the other side scurrying for weapons to counter attack this new revelation. We can clean up our act by substituting ‘and’ instead of ‘but’. “I am no expert in negotiation and here I am negotiating with you, so please help me out.” Instead of connoting challenge or flattery with the ‘but’ word, we have ratcheted down the conflict level.

9—–”I’m sorry’

Be on alert for these words of apology. Why would anyone apologize in advance for what they are about to say? The effect of the phrase ‘I’m sorry’ is to erase all the words that trivialize the words that come after it. It trivializes the content to the extent that it may be ignored. If the sales person says, “I’m sorry. Our policy won’t permit returns,” she has expressed half hearted agreement with the policy, connoted an air of weakness and invited further investigation. Reserve the words ‘I’m sorry’ for mistakes.

10—–Changes in speech patterns

Train your ears to perk up when someone speeds up, slows down, repeats, answers a question other than what was asked, or otherwise changes their pattern of speech. These departures from the usual betray a loss of poise that bears exploration.

When a speaker speeds up, they may be unconsciously trying to get past the trouble spot. If they whistle past the graveyard, maybe you won’t notice they are afraid.

Sunday morning TV news shows serve up a bonanza of suspicious speech patterns. Every politician worth the office knows the value of answering whatever they want to say, no matter the question. It is a way to get the message out, stay consistent, and avoid off script traps. Unless you are negotiating for public office, this circuitous route may not be the best. When faced with the politician negotiator, ask the same question in different words to eliminate any honest misunderstanding. Suppose, for instance, that you ask your spouse, What time is dinner?” In response, you hear, “Well, I put the roast in at four thirty.” This is an honest misunderstanding caused by answering a question other than what was asked.

Ask close ended questions to improve precision. Perhaps insert the ‘and’ instead of ‘but’ word to clarify, and include the reflective response too such as in this sentence. “And you expect that roast will be ready at about what time?” You have narrowed the funnel quite a bit without creating any undue friction. As a last resort, explain your frustration and ask for help. If you receive none, your suspicions are confirmed. Often times, depending on the individual’s personality, a seller may not want to answer a question head on for fear of offending someone, betraying a confidence, or general insecurity.

11—–Announcer statements

Announcer statements encompass a variety of prefatory remarks intended to condition the other side for desired effect. Off the cuff terminology comparable to “By the way”, or “As you know” sometimes inadvertently introduce important or decoy information.

The preface, “To be honest with you,” merits particular attention. On its face, the phrase is ridiculous. Is the speaker confessing dishonesty up to this point? That is probably not the intention, but it may be the message received. It should alert the listener that significant information probably follows.

The use of repetition is another announcer alarm tone. Politicians repeat for emphasis, or maybe because they expect people not to listen so they won’t notice the repetition. Constant repetition, however, may be an indication of importance of the repeated point. It might simply be a flaw in negotiation skills. In any event, it bears clarification.

12—–Avoid pronouns

Is anything more prone to confusion than the overuse of pronouns? They (referring to pronouns) are just too non specific. The pronouns ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘we’ and ‘they’ are tough enough, but ‘it’ comes in for special scrutiny. A description that goes on for more than three sentences needs to reconfirm the identity of nouns being supplanted by pronouns. Any more than one male in a story and the use of ‘he’ becomes troublesome. Given that ‘it’ covers almost all creation, the pronoun problem (it, meaning the pronoun problem) cannot be overstated.

At home, I live with a wife, two daughters and a cat, all female. With my back to the crowd, I will hear, “did you see how she did to her?” Huh? Unless the house is on fire, I tune out all the static noise rather than try to unravel the pronoun references.

13—–Distinguish observation from conclusion

This fault of logic must be one of the most common problems for familiar parties. If someone offers an observation, do not impute your own conclusion. It may not coincide with theirs. If the seller says, “We cannot sell at that price,” that is merely an observation. To furnish our own conclusion would be erroneous. We cannot summarily conclude that the price is too low. It could mean their costs are too high, or that they have some other controlling factor that is not divulged. Clarify the conclusion by asking straight away about what conclusion to draw. If the person is challenged by direct questions, employ the reflective response and rephrase the observation. Then, with the ‘I’ statement, ask about the conclusion. The talk might be like this. “So, if I understand the statement, that price is not available. Is that right so far?” If you hear a no, investigate with open end questions. If the answer is yes, the test for conclusion might be, “So that I am clear, is the conclusion that the price is too low for to cover the costs?”

Using PowerPoint Presentations in a Language Classroom

If you teach in a language classroom (ESL or any other language really), eventually you will ask your students to do an in-class presentation. Presentations are a great way for students to showcase their abilities and gain confidence using their new language in a stressful yet safe environment.

In most situations, the purpose of asking a language student prepare and perform a presentation is so that they can demonstrate their abilities to:

  • choose their topics
  • generate ideas by brainstorming
  • then logically organize and show they can
  • make sensible relationships between them
  • use intelligible English in front of an audience
  • all within a specific time frame

These are all very important skills, for a language learner who intended to peruse a career in business or in academics. For most language students just being able to accomplish these tasks in a new language is a great feat in itself – forget about complicating the process with posters and software like PowerPoint.

However, after nearly 15 years of teaching, I have found that the first thing students want to do is use PowerPoint. I think in most cases they feel that they will be more ‘impressive’. Regardless of the reasons, when students decide to use a software tool like PowerPoint, their focus changes from preparing a good presentation towards building the slides. As a result many problems crop up. Some of the most common traps you will see students falling into include:

  • Including more text than needed
  • Adding in distracting sliding visuals and sounds
  • not practicing enough (because they use the slides as a crutch)
  • reading slides word for word
  • looking at the screen more than the audience
  • having compatibility issues with the software

What so often ends up happening is that the technology gets in the way of the student putting on a decent presentation. Now I’m not blaming the technology here, the problem comes from lack of experience with both the technology and also with giving presentations. These problems are not limited to language learners by any means. Native English speakers who aren’t very experienced have very similar issues as well. However they can become a very bad combination for a language learner who is also trying to cope with language problems.

Regardless of whether you are a language student, or a native language speaker, you really want to avoid:

  1. handing out the slides on paper, then
  2. putting the same slides up for the audience to read and then
  3. reading the slides out loud as your presentation.

This would simply be a waste of everyone’s time.
So should language learners use PowerPoint as a tool for giving presentations? Well I think the answer to that is a qualified ‘yes’. Before they do, they need to be reasonably comfortable with the language they are studying. Then they need to have some instruction/guidance in developing content and presenting it with PowerPoint. Once they’ve had that, they will be more capable of controlling the technology instead of being controlled by it.

Buying Personalised Presents for Christmas

When it comes to buying Christmas gifts, many of us end up spending far too much and getting far too stressed out! In fact, far from being a time of peace and goodwill to all men, Christmas can often mean a time of family arguments and financial worries. Back in July of 2012 Asda published research results that showed 46% of women worried about the cost of Christmas; 93% were already buying presents and a 2011 survey by M&S Money showed that only 4 out f 10 people surveyed made a spending budget with just over half expected to stick to it.

So why all the stress at Christmas? Well for many people it comes down to searching for the right gift and not paying over the odds for it. Let’s face it, many gifts that are churned out over Christmas are tacky and gimmicky and many probably won’t see the light of day after Boxing Day. So is it really worth all that stress for them to end up with a gift that is barely used? Instead, why not get them something that really reflects their characters; which doesn’t cost too much and which will be a treasured gift item for many years to come?

Budget Personalised Christmas Gifts
Some of the most thoughtful gifts are not the expensive electronic gadgets that cost hundreds, or the latest must have accessory or even designer clothing, they are gifts that have been chosen with care, that are unique to the recipient and which are given and received with love.

They say you cannot wrap a memory but we beg to differ. What could contain more memories than a cherished photograph of a first grandchild, a group reunion, a romantic moment or a special holiday? There are many gorgeous personalised photograph frames to suit every occasion and that would turn your cherished photo into a superb and memorable gift.

There are other budget gifts such as keyrings and chocolate bars that make great little stocking fillers! All of the gifts mentioned below are all great value and many can be bought for under a tenner!

Personalised Christmas Gifts for Her
Women love a sentimental gift so why not consider a personalised wine glass that could even include a short and very personal message engraved upon it. If you present this with a bottle of her favourite tipple then you are bound to be in her good books throughout the festive season!

Personalised Christmas Gifts for Him
What could be better than a steaming hot cappuccino served in a photo mug? Yes, you supply the photo and it will be transferred onto a mug along with his name – so whether you want one for a Super Dad or Lifelong Footie Supporter it’s bound to be a sure fire hit with him!

Personalised Children’s Christmas Gifts
Younger children will just love personalised Santa letters that are sent out with a sprinkling of magical fairy dust! Who says Father Christmas is just a myth? Personalised Christmas teddy bears are also a cute and favourite addition to the Christmas stocking!

Older teens will love personalised iPhone cases and funky retro sweet jars with all their favourites plus many more – just make sure mum and dad don’t find them!

Those are just a few of the treats in store for Christmas Day, so don’t get all in a tizz about Christmas shopping, start to order online now and get it all delivered in plenty of time. There’s something to please everyone and all at prices that will make sure you stay well within your budget!