September 11, 2012
When people negotiate with others, they respond more favorably to persons who exhibit body postures and speech patterns similar to their own. Negotiators who hope to take advantage of this factor can work to mirror the postures and speech patterns of the individuals with whom they are interacting.
When opponents lean back in their chair, these persons assume the same posture. If opponents cross one leg over another, these persons cross the same leg over the other leg to reflect the posture of those people. When adversaries lean forward in their chairs, these negotiators lean forward in a similar manner.
Skilled negotiators can similarly mirror the speech patterns used by opponents. When those persons speak more slowly, they speak more deliberately. When adversaries speak more rapidly, they speed up. Negotiators can also reflect the speech tone of opponents. When those people elevate their voice pitch, they can do the same.
When individuals speak, they usually employ one of three sensory preferences. Some use a visual orientation, and they describe their thoughts visually. For example, they ask if others can picture what they are saying, or they indicate that they can see what someone else is requesting. These persons tend to respond more favorably to negotiators who respond using a similar orientation. It thus helps if others respond to these persons by describing their desires graphically. They might alternatively say that they can see what the other side is concerned about.
Some individuals have an auditory orientation, and they use words to describe auditory perceptions. They might ask opponents to listen to their concerns or indicate that the other side’s proposal has rung a bell with them. They may ask adversaries to voice their opinion about the subject of their discussions. Persons with this orientation react most favorably to others who use a similar frame. For example, someone who hears their concerns, or who suggests that their proposal should create a large bang in the business community.
The third group tends to exhibit a kinesthetic/feeling orientation. These are people who feel or sense things. They might indicate that a proposal smells bad or leaves a bad taste in their mouth. They tend to rely on their gut feelings. To appeal most effectively to individuals with this orientation, negotiators should reflect their kinesthetic/feeling orientation. They might indicate that a new offer feels good to them, or suggest why they are not comfortable with that proposal.