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Self-Evaluating Your Behavior during the Negotiation Session

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"You win by trying, not by standing around!" —Fran Tarkenton.

Now it's time to take a look at you, especially in the role of negotiator. What kind of appearance do you present to your supervisor? What kind of signals do you project by your body language? Are you alert to the signals being conveyed to you? To complete this personal appraisal, consider your behavior during the negotiation session, including self-evaluation of how you did.

Stop: look at and listen to yourself, and visualize bow others see you.



1. Your Appearance Counts

When you look into a mirror, you get a certain impression about yourself. To obtain the raise you deserve, you want that image to reflect a positive-type person, one who is alert but not tense and one who can meet challenges. You've got to look confident that you can convince your supervisor you're more than worth every dollar the company pays you.

For this reason, your physical appearance as a negotiator is of utmost importance. How you dress will reflect your personality, credibility, and appropriate management position. A dark suit or dress conveys authority, but black should be avoided-it's too negative. Long-sleeved shirts or blouses are more appropriate than short-sleeved ones. Shoes should be styled conservatively (no sneakers!), free from scuffs, and color-coordinated with the rest of the outfit. Here's a common sense rule: To negotiate a raise, dress slightly more, not less, conservatively than your supervisor.

Eye contact connotes friendship, trust, and self-confidence, but staring may indicate hostility and disrespect. A warm smile is fine, but it should be sincere, not a mechanical display of teeth. Since dry lips show fear and tension, keep your lips moist. Coughing often projects nervousness unless, of course, you obviously have a cold. Have a clean handkerchief handy to cover unexpected sneezes.

2. Speech Is Important Too

A well-modulated tone-but not monotone-and crisp pronunciation of words, without slurring, will help in projecting a good impression. Clear diction and a proper command of language, including use of an adequate vocabulary and proper grammar, are essential. However, don't attempt to impress your supervisor by using six-syllable words when simple language will put your message across. And remember: never raise your voice, especially if you are angry.

3. Watching for Body Language

Body language may be used to project a person's true personality or to convey false signals. The primary component of body language is eye contact. Prolonged scrutiny can make you feel ill at ease. In contrast, if a listener continually glances in other directions while you are talking, he or she is either disturbed by what you are saying or is not paying full attention. Continual blinking can indicate anger, excitement, or fear. Eyebrow twitching reflects nervousness.

Facial gestures and head movements can also project feelings or thoughts. Cocking the head may indicate interest or doubt. A warm smile usually denotes friendliness and agreement; a frown, sadness or anger.

Using eyeglasses as a prop, such as putting them in one's mouth, usually occurs when a decision is required. You should avoid peering over your glasses, as this can make the other person nervous.

Other types of body language include hand signals (clenched or opened fists) and arm and leg movements. A firm handshake indicates confidence; the "bone-crusher" may show insecurity; and the wet and clammy handshake reflects nervousness. Clenched fists often show anger and hostility. A tapping foot betrays impatience. Arm gestures, such as folding them across the chest, may send a strong signal that threatens the other person. One arm folded in front of your chest with the hand clutching the other arm attempts to disguise nervousness. Leg positions can also project signals. Crossed legs indicate tension, whereas stretched legs (for men) and legs with knees together (for women) show a relaxed attitude.

Many of us, as well prepared as we are, walk into a meeting with sweaty palms and shaky limbs. What can be done? We can try relaxing through deep breathing, or projecting confidence by believing in ourselves. But even the most experienced negotiator feels stress when worrying about the outcome.

Some stress-raisers can also play havoc on one's nerves, such as:
  1. where you may be seated (perhaps the sun is streaming through a window, right into your eyes);
  2. you may be seated in a chair where one leg is shorter than the others;
  3. you may discover that you have several people in your audience, rather than a one-on-one situation; and
  4. the cup of coffee offered to you may be put into your shaking hand.
How do we cope with such circumstances? If the sun is annoying you, look for a spot in the shade. Relocate your chair and move without mumbling any apology to your supervisor. If your chair is wobbly, tell the supervisor that you'd like to change chairs to a more stable one. Meeting with more than one person can be intimidating. Reply to questions by looking the individual asking the question right in the eyes. Finally, it's best to refuse coffee-but if you do accept a cup, put it down on a sturdy base.

As you will have surmised by now, body language is a course in itself; it involves studying details of movement that are much more intricate than those described here. Much of what we know about this fascinating subject is learned by experience.

4. "How Did I Do?"

Self-assessment will help you to gain insight into your personality traits and your skills as a negotiator. By employing a checklist, it is possible to determine how well the negotiation was conducted and, in particular, how you appeared to your supervisor.

During the session, did you:
  • follow your plan as you had prepared it?
  • let your supervisor finish speaking without interrupting?
  • avoid being offensive or argumentative? (This is where the "Yes, but . . ." technique may have come in handy.)
  • answer questions directly without deviating from your salary objectives?
  • avoid making concessions out of fear?
  • pay careful attention to your body language:
  • avoid distracting mannerisms such as tapping your fingers or a pencil, wringing your hands, fidgeting, and touching your face?

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