While some people think of negotiation as an aggressive, fight-to-the-death battle from which only one winner can emerge, there’s an ever-growing body of research showing that collaboration – not competition – leads to better, win-win outcomes for everyone.

But how do you get your counterpart to collaborate with you? Let’s say you’re negotiating your next pay rise or promotion. What should you do to get them working together with you to reach an outcome that’s mutually beneficial?

It all comes down to communication.

We may spend most of our time communicating with others, but that doesn’t mean we’re as skillful as we could be.

To help you, here are two simple yet powerful communication strategies that can take you and your counterpart from going head-to-head to working side-by-side.

1. Use collaborative language

Words are powerful. They can transform your outcomes. So be extra careful with your choice of words in your upcoming salary negotiation.

For example, in one study, participants’ levels of cooperation doubled when a game was called “The Community Game” rather than “The Wall Street Game” – even though it was exactly the same game (Ross and Ward, 1995). Different wording elicits different responses.

How can you use language to your advantage in your next negotiation? If you want your counterpart to cooperate with you, simply use collaborative language. Words like ‘collaborate’, ‘work together’, team up’ as well as words like ‘we’, ‘our’ and ‘us’ allude to a cooperative working relationship. And that, in turn, increases cooperative behaviors (Perdue et al., 1990).

On the other hand, be careful of negotiation terminology that has a more competitive slant. Even commonly-used words like ‘rejecting’ and ‘accepting’ have been found to increase aggressive negotiation behaviours (Larrick & Blount, 1997).

2. Schedule a future meeting

While we don’t typically want to attend more meetings than necessary, breaking up your negotiation into separate meetings can be an effective communication tactic.

Why? Research shows that if your counterpart believes they’ll be interacting with you again in the near future, they’ll negotiate less aggressively (Murninghan & Roth, 1983).

To apply this insight, plan a second meeting prior to holding your first meeting. Even if you plan to reach an agreement within a single meeting, the prospect of a subsequent meeting will motivate your counterpart to behave more cooperatively during the initial interaction.

With these communication tactics up your sleeve, you’ll be ready to take on your next salary negotiation with confidence.

Be even more prepared with our Harvard-based Negotiation Planner – download it for free here.  To learn more about interest based negotiation, we recommend the book “Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher & William Ury.”

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