4 habits of Black BELT© Negotiators to close more deal

1st of June 2019

What brings more value?

To take the time to create a connection, or to go straight to dealing with your negotiation of conflict?

A study from Professor Cialdini (1) is made of two groups: the first group was told, "Time is money. Get straight down to business", the second group was told, "Before you begin negotiating, exchange some personal information with each other." The first group closed the deal with a 55% success rate, where the second group closed the deal with a 90% success rate.

Think about it, with whom are you more inclined to negotiate when there's a conflict? Someone who gets straight to business without preamble, or someone who takes some time to know you, listen to you, in other words connect with you.

From INNESS© study (2), the connection phase brings twice more value at the negotiation table than no connection at all.

So, how do we use Connection?

1. Connect first

Take the time to establish a genuine connection before any discussion:

  • Use similarity and mirroring to sync and find common interests,
  • Ask open-question on matters your counterpart is interested in,
  • Break the ice by talking about sundry topics (but avoid the common),
  • Humour, if you take caution, is a highway to the connection.
  • Be sincere. If you fake your emotions, you will sound and look fake.
  • Use the Baritone-effect. A soft, calm, and low-pitch voice as a positive impact on your charisma and persuasion effect (4).
  • Check the connection sometimes during your negotiation. Often, it is lost on-the-way to your objectives. So take a step back and check if it is still on, if not, take some time to reconnect.

2. Clean the channel

If you believe strong emotions exist before the negotiation, then address them. Otherwise, you take the risk that these emotions would emerge later on. If there's anger or tension, label them. However, be as soft as possible; empathy is not an exact science; being soft allows room for misinterpretation and avoid over-reaction from your counterpart. For example: "It seems like there's a bit of concern on your part", "It sounds like you're unhappy about this situation".

3. Pro-paration.

If you think that high emotions may arise based on something you may do or say, then you can prevent this reaction by putting words on our they may react. However, only do this if the likeliness to get an emotional response is high. You don't want to project your thoughts, emotions, and fear and to imagine too much about what your counterpart may think. For example:" It may be that the topic I want to share with you would be difficult to hear, how would you like me to share it with you?", or, "My proposal may sound like I am very demanding at first, how can I show that my intention is positive ?".

It may [look|sound|feel|seem|be] [like|that] + [potential emotional response] + [Open question].

4. Empathic reformulation.

If emotions arise during your negotiation, you may feel some stress. One way to get out of the situation is to label what you see, feel, or hear. For example: "You are worried when I speak of deferred payments because you need liquidity for your projects." Often, it's just enough for someone to calm down, on top of that the other party will take no offence and will see your effort trying to understand (3). Using a downward inflexion of your voice will help you be more persuasive and cool the situation down (4).

You [feeling] when [observation] because you need [Need|interest]+ [Downward inflection].


If negotiation is a communication process, then it means it's about people interaction. Luckily, experience and science get together to demonstrate how powerful is a good connection in solving conflicts. So:

  • Before discussing the matter, Connect first.
  • Address emotions before the negotiation by Cleaning the Channel.
  • Avoid emotional reactions by using Pro-paration.
  • Label arising emotion by using Empathic Reformulation.

Of course, for some people, it might be challenging to talk spontaneously or to find a way to connect. If you feel like it's not an easy task for you, you might need some help to find the techniques that fit with your profile to allow such a connection; we could help in that matter.

Stephane Royer


  1. Source. Pr Cialdini «In a series of negotiation studies, a first group was told, "Time is money. Get straight down to business." In this group, around 55% were able to come to an agreement. A second group however, was told, "Before you begin negotiating, exchange some personal information with each other. Identify a similarity you share in common then begin negotiating." In this group, 90% of them were able to come to successful and agreeable outcomes that were typically worth 18% more to both parties
  2. Royer, S. (2019). The Negotiation 6-Acts.
  3. Rosenberg, Marshall B. (2003). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life (2nd ed.). Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press. ISBN 978-1-892005-03-8
  4. Zei, B.https://www.vox-institute.ch/eng/publications

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