Impact and Influence in Action – It’s Not Just What’s Logically Right - What Do They Want?

Keeping the lines of communication open during negotiations is vital to your being able to have a positive impact and be of influence so that the final outcomes are both wise and fit with what you want. But you, of course, are not the only one in the conversation – that’s why you’re in negotiation. It takes at least two and the starting point is some kind of difference in expectations, thinking, and understanding or desired end results. The end point, or resolution, is where an outcome is reached that all sides can live with. There is a level of compromise (perhaps on all sides) so that this outcome can be achieved or there may be new realisations that mean a more creative resolution is achieved.

Preferences play an important role in how much compromise is likely or possible. So it’s important that you explore these as you continue in the converging part of the negotiations – the part where you have started moving towards resolution. In Dr Richard Hale’s Hale Circle of Influence™ the “Preferences” section of the map is about checking how possibilities fit with the other person’s thinking so that proposals are accepted.

When teaching or coaching influencers, negotiators and leaders about how to have more impact and influence I encourage them to frequently move their thinking and check out how things look both from the other person’s perspective and as a detached observer. This discipline is vital if you are not to become over-attached to your own position and lose the ability to explore options, alternatives and new areas.

Preferences are essentially about “wins” which are not the same as “results”. In such works as Miller Heimann’s “The New Strategic Selling” the distinction is clear. Wins are personal not organisational, subjective rather than objective and may be irrational not rational – what the other person wants, not necessarily what the organisation needs. Maslow and others talked about human motivation and such things as recognition, status and belonging fall into this category. You may have a great technical solution to the organisation’s problem – but if makes the other person lose status or look like they’re losing than it’s unlikely to happen.

It could be as simple as allowing them to make the presentation to the next level (that makes them look good in front of their bosses) or (as has happened to me more than once in my training business) letting the organisation badge my work with their logo so it looks like the HR Director came up with the idea, not me. The trick to pull off is finding something that doesn’t mean too much to you but means a lot more to them.

So at this stage you are tuning in to what they like or dislike as much, if not more, than what the logical conclusion might be. Think about men and cars – you’ll see that it’s more than logic that sells transport. Your solution needs to be palatable to their preferences as well as technically sound.


Clive is co-founder of ClearWorth - a company specialising in the design, development and delivery of bespoke learning, coaching, workshops and courses for senior managers, leaders and influencers and their teams.  Clive lives in the UK and France and works all over the world from Ohio to Oman, Windsor to Warri Chatham to Chengdu, Helsinki to Hydrabad and Calgary to Kuala Lumpur.  He specialises in the development of persuasion, influencing and negotiation skills and has a particular i...

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