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Long and hard? Or short and successful?

In general, negotiations of any kind are plagued by several common problems.

“One problem you may experience when negotiating with another party is poor communication. It is well known that if one party fails to listen intently to the other party, negotiations could stall or become unproductive. During negotiations, all parties should speak directly to each other and be prepared to explain problems, articulate shared and unshared interests and work together toward a fast resolution, according to Community Catalyst, Inc.”


Other problems could be: failing to identify the bargaining chips in exchange for something more valuable, power dynamics combined with personality clashes, lack of emotional intelligence, individual differences, cultural differences, and many more.

NLP approaches negotiation from a different perspective. Instead of focusing on the content of each negotiation, it approaches it from the structural point of view.

Each position of the two parties, even if radically opposed to the other, has a positive intent. However, that positive intent is not obvious at the level of that party’s external behavior. By the process called “Hierarchy of Ideas,” NLP can help discover the positive intent of both parties thus reaching consensus far easier.

Even trained mediators and negotiators (unless trained in NLP) who listen attentively can miss the real intent of the parties involved in negotiations. To be a good “listener,” the following skills from NLP are extremely effective.


Considering that the negotiation happens with the decision maker (an “essential” for the success of any mediation or negotiation), and if there are no other hidden reasons (usually financial in nature) for keeping the negotiation going on ‘forever,” NLP can assist with the following:

Learning how to observe minute changes in the physiology of the person without guessing or mind-reading (in NLP this is called Sensory Acuity). This is not Body Language as normally understood, as it does not include predetermined or prejudiced evaluations.
Learning how to associate effectively different states to statements, body posture, breathing rate and location (e.g. satisfaction, frustration) without guessing or mind reading. In other words, without any preconceived evaluations. The process is called calibration.
Learning how to really understand the assumptions presupposed by someone’s speech. People use words differently and the meaning of words will most likely vary from person to person. The most common mistake in negotiations is the assumption that everyone uses the meaning of words similarly. Nothing can be further from the truth. NLP can assist with the correct understanding of the meaning of communication by the language section (In NLP this is called The Presuppositions in Natural Language). Without this understanding, listening (even if actively or intently) leads to nowhere because the wrong assumptions are made to begin with.
The secret of successful negotiations, according to NLP, is the ability to think from big picture or specifics and vice-versa with ease (the process is learning how to “chunk up or down”) and navigate the continuum from one to the other through gradations of logical levels, successfully. Agreement is not possible (or is very arduous and tenuous to achieve) when one’s mind is caught only in a compartmentalized specificity.
Another secret revealed by NLP is the use of a technique called “Perceptual Positions” which describes a point of view from different perspectives in a specific situation.
NLP can also assist in the speed and success of negotiations using a powerful process whereby both parties get clarity on their outcome and discover ahead of time how to develop as many options as possible for mutual gain.
The use of the NLP “agreement frame” and the use of the NLP “as if” frame. In NLP, these are distinctions which set a clearly defined context.
The use of a specific NLP technique called “Reframing” for handling objections to change the frame or the context of a statement.
The use of anchoring as a powerful tool linking a specific stimulus to a state for powerful positive and highly motivated states.
The use of conscious language when offering suggestions and when questioning.
The use of specific tests when understanding and summarizing the outcome.
The use of precise clarifying techniques to uncover specific implications hidden behind the objections (in NLP this is called discovering Complex Equivalents).

With the help of these NLP techniques, the timeframe for a successful completion of the negotiation (or mediation) is significantly shortened and the emotional demand on both parties is alleviated significantly for the mutual benefit of all involved.

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