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Negotiation: Persuasion Through Out-Listening

From the blog of Nancy Hudgins

Have you ever witnessed an argument when two people are talking simultaneously? Each is stating his position and airing his grievances? They’re frowning in frustration? Their voices are rising? Why? Because neither one is feeling heard. Each one feels the other side is not listening to them. This is not a recipe for persuasion. It’s a recipe for continued conflict.

Here’s a truism about human interaction. People are more able to listen once they feel they’ve been heard. They are more likely to feel heard if an authentic human connection is made.

If you want to be the most persuasive voice in a negotiation, consider what a friend of mine calls “out-listening” the other side. Just keep listening. When they feel heard, they are more able to listen to you. When they are listening, you have a golden opportunity to persuade.

Here’s a bonus. You can also use this strategy in your personal interactions. I remembered this idea recently when my teen-age daughter brought a problem to me. Rather than rushing in to fix the problem (my usual, unthinking default mode), I just kept listening. In fact, I out-listened so well that she finally asked, in a somewhat shocked voice, “Mom, don’t you have anything to say?!”

Try out-listening your spouse, significant other, children, etc. Leave a comment and let me know how it goes.


Nancy Hudgins

Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class… MORE >

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