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Verbal Control and Non-Verbal Unity in Negotiations
Lessons from the Google Monopoly Case
The Weekly Walkaway highlights negotiation in its ‘good’, ‘bad’ and sometimes ‘downright ugly’ forms. Issue No. 53 (17th November 2023)
What to expect?
Tactic of the Week - The Silence
Quotes of the Week - “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” (The Bible)
Thought of the Week - Verbal Control and Non-Verbal Unity in Negotiations: Lessons from the Google Monopoly Case
Remember: You are a negotiator!
You are always managing some form of conflict, a difference of opinion or interest.
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TACTIC OF THE WEEK
It’s a cracker. The negotiation tactic ‘The Silence’ is very powerful, in fact it is one of the negotiators most powerful tools.
Becoming more comfortable in silence enables you to ‘GO’ silent during a negotiation in order to exploit and/or elicit a response or advantage from those who have not become more comfortable being uncomfortable. It gives you control.
Alongside a good flinch (a Non verbal response that says; “I’m disappointed in you”, “I’m disgusted with your proposal”, “Are you dumb?”) you can put pressure on the other party to make a concession or to fill the void with information that may be advantageous to you. The idea is to make the other party feel uncomfortable. ‘People’ generally hate silence and will buy back their comfort by ‘talking’.
Going silent is particularly effective when you use it after a good anchor, an extreme opener or a powerful question. The silence shows confidence, that you mean it.. You are strong and in control.
But silence can also be used for good. Knowing when to be silent allows a collaborator time and space to gather their thoughts, preventing you or them from making hasty emotional, unplanned, decisions that might go against the relationship or your objectives, and so ensuring ongoing cooperation not a change into competition. Take a time out..
THOUGHT OF THE WEEK
Verbal Control and Non-Verbal Unity in Negotiations: Lessons from the Google Monopoly Case
In fact the actual amount, YES, that very sensitive information, the trade secret, the information Google wouldn't have wanted to be revealed has slipped out in court while defending itself from monopoly claims!!
What happened is a 'specialist', an ‘expert witness’, on behalf of Google, under pressure of questioning has spoken out of turn.
Yup, just like specialists and Directors do, they love to talk to show how much knowledge they have but in doing so they have revealed very sensitive information. Information that will now weaken Google's position.
As if that was not bad enough….!! On hearing the verbal slip the Google Lawyer has compounded the error by 'visibly flinching' at the mistake giving it credibility and showing everyone how sensitive the information was!
Here we have two very important learning points for negotiators and those negotiating in teams;
the importance of planned communication to avoid revealing sensitive information. Being planned and speaking only when appropriate ensures you don't give away sensitive information that weakens your position and leave you open to exploitation;
the necessity of maintaining control over non-verbal reactions within the negotiating team. How the team around you must control their non verbal reactions so as to show unity, control, confidence and that their non verbal doesn't give away even more information that weakens your position even more.
So Y’all.. You Weekly Walkawayers lets dive in: Verbal Control and Non-Verbal Unity in Negotiations: Lessons from the Google Monopoly Case!
God Darn it you guy all know that negotiations are a complex processes that requires careful planning, strategic communication, and a unified front.
So if you that how the hell can Google get it so wrong!?
There is no place for ‘The Cowboy’! You need to be planned. Plan. Plan. Plan.
Let’s take a look at the two most important learning points:
1. Planned Communication to Avoid Revealing Sensitive Information:
The sharing of information by the specialist, revealing the specific share of advertising revenue Google sends to Apple, demonstrates the critical need for planned communication during negotiations.
In negotiations, it is crucial to adhere to a carefully crafted strategy, only revealing information that strengthens your position and avoiding disclosures that could weaken it.
Unplanned, unscripted, sharing of information is detrimental to your negotiating position.
Uncontrolled talking just provides ammunition to your counterpart and compromises your tactical and strategic advantages.
You need to develop verbal control in your negotiations and your team must establish clear communication protocols.
This involves training your speakers and rehearsing talking points.
Plan what can be shared and what can not be shared. Agree upfront within the team what can be proposed and what can not be proposed.
Additionally, an understanding of potential pressure points and scenarios should be part of the preparation to prevent uncontrolled talking when put under pressure.
Stop thinking and Talking! This harms your negotiation position.
You must be proactive in predicting what your counterpart is going to ask and be ready; To Talk or not to Talk. To Share or not to Share. To Propose or not to Propose.
Here are some key considerations:
Silence: In negotiations, there is often a temptation to fill every silence with words. However, tactical silence can be a powerful tool to maintain control and avoid divulging sensitive information. Team members should be trained to resist the urge to provide unnecessary details and speak only when it is advantageous.
Scripted Responses: Having scripted responses for potential sensitive questions can help team members stay on message and avoid unintentionally disclosing critical information. This ensures that the negotiating team presents a consistent and controlled narrative.
Preparation for Pressures: Negotiators should anticipate tough questions and be well-prepared to handle them. They need to become much more comfortable being uncomfortable! This includes scenario planning for unexpected inquiries and having a plan in place to gracefully deflect or navigate around sensitive topics.
Clear Communication Guidelines: Establishing clear guidelines on what information can and cannot be disclosed is essential. This should be communicated to all team members to prevent unintentional leaks. A unified and consistent message strengthens a negotiating position. All team members, especially experts and Senior Directors, should be aligned on the key points and messaging strategy. Inconsistencies will be exploited by the opposing party to undermine credibility. Their ego will be used against them. If they know the answer their ego and pride may make it very difficult for them to say…. “I Don’t Know”!
2. Control Over Non-Verbal Reactions:
The Google lawyer's visible flinch at the revealed information highlights the importance of maintaining control over your non-verbal reactions. Self control significantly impacts the perceived strength of your negotiating position. FACT!
The Flinch, usually a non verbal reaction we call out as being essential in negotiation to show your counterpart you do not agree.
Here, in this example though, the flinch is described as "visibly cringing" from the information being revealed. As in OMG or FFS!
Your non-verbal communication can either reinforce or undermine your verbal message.
Want to reject a proposal then you better shake your head.
Want to reinforce how stupid you want your counterpart to feel for asking a particular question then raise your eyebrows and screw up your nose in a ‘are you kidding’ kind of way.
But if you nod when you want to say no you’ll leave yourself open to being exploited and if you visibly cringe when your teammate speaks you’ll show a lack of unity, control, and confidence in your team mate. This just weakens your negotiation position.
A joined up well trained, well planned, team on the other hand is cohesive, maintains composure, even under pressure, projects strength and control.
Non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, and gestures play a pivotal role in shaping the perception of your counterparty.
Here are some key considerations:
Team Unity: A cohesive and well-coordinated team is crucial. Team members should be aware of each other's roles, and there should be a shared understanding of the message and strategy. Unity in the team's body language, and verbal communication contributes to a stronger overall negotiating position.
Training: Negotiators should undergo training to maintain composure under pressure. This includes techniques to manage stress, control facial expressions, and avoid visible signs of discomfort. Mock negotiation scenarios can help prepare team members for real-life challenges.
Pre-Negotiation Briefings: Before negotiations, the team should be briefed on potential challenges and unexpected scenarios. This includes discussing possible revelations and developing strategies for responding without compromising the negotiation position.
Real-time Communication: Establishing a system for real-time communication within the team is vital. This allows team members to quickly address unexpected situations, make decisions on the fly, and present a unified front.
Emotional Control: Individuals must regulate their emotions effectively, especially in high-pressure situations. Training in emotional control can help team members maintain a composed exterior, even when faced with unexpected challenges.
The Google monopoly trial serves as a valuable case study for understanding the importance of planned communication and non-verbal unity in negotiations.
The example emphasises the need for meticulous planning, disciplined communication, and control over both verbal and non-verbal expressions in your negotiations.
Teams involved in high-stakes negotiations should prioritise being trained to become more comfortable being uncomfortable and how to control the negotiation by managing their emotions to project confidence through controlled non-verbal cues.
These elements are essential for maintaining a strong negotiating position and avoiding giving information away, verbally or non-verbally, that will compromise your outcome and leave you being exploited.
By incorporating these principles, you and your negotiating team can better navigate challenging situations, protect sensitive information, and maintain a strong position at the negotiation table.
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