The prerequisite for a convincing argument is to properly understand your negotiating partner’s motives. An important element of negotiation psychology is the accurate understanding of one’s interlocutor. Only those who understand properly are able to drive the right strategy and communicate benefits effectively.
Understanding consists of listening, allowing the other side to finish their point, and analyzing what has been said. A conscious distinction between listening and allowing to finish is made here. Most of us allow the other person to finish, but real listening is much more difficult. The so-called controlled dialogue is a good exercise: two interlocutors sit opposite each other and “argue” about a topic. Interlocutor A is given the task of taking a position that is very close to their heart. Interlocutor B takes the opposite position. A argues in favor of their position while B has to listen. Then B has to repeat what was said after A has finished. Then interlocutor A confirms that all points have been repeated accurately, and B may present the opposite position
This game hardly ever works. And it does not work because most people allow their interlocutors to finish, but never listen properly to what is being said. Our brain plays a trick on us while we are listening. We can absorb a lot of data while listening, so we already start to formulate our own thoughts while the other person is still speaking. That means we are no longer listening!
How many times have your spouse, children or colleagues told you that you never listen properly? And how many times have you answered that you are actually listening. Most of us confuse “allowing to finish” with “listening”. Listening means allowing others to speak, and to understand why they are saying what they are saying. The goal should be that you actually listen while hearing the arguments and make sure that you do not bring your own arguments into play while listening.
The two ways of listening
In analytic listening, you stick to the speaker’s statement. You listen closely and simultaneously check the reason why your conversation partner provides this information.
In contrast, in associative listening you do not listen properly, and allow your thoughts to be drawn away from the factual context of the speaker’s statement. You associate what you are hearing with elements from other areas. Usually, the starting point for those associations are emotionally charged words or certain topics in the speaker’s statement.
Therefore,stay tuned to the interlocutor’s message and do not allow yourself to be distracted by any associations. Analytical listening can be learned. Listen to what is being said as if you had to repeat it. You can, for example, start a repetition with “If I understood you correctly then...” and get the confirmation that you have listened correctly.