February 2016
Raphael Lapin

Negotiation, Mediation and Litigation-Avoidance Specialists Since 1995

10940 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, Suite 1600
Tel: 888-964-8884
Dear Clients and Friends,


Persuasion and influence is a key skill-set necessary to become an effective negotiator. This is not to be confused with the manipulative, unscrupulous efforts commonly  associated with a second-hand car salesman, but rather an authentic, subtle and sophisticated process.  Join me as I share this important process with you in this February  '16 edition of N EGOTIATION STRATEGIES. 
For your reading convenience, we also distill this into a brief lessons learned at the end of the column.
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Also see  About Lapin Negotiation Services below for ways in which we can make a high impact and a demonstrable and substantive difference to your organization.

With Best Wishes 
Raphael Lapin

A common and familiar complaint: "How can I make sure my ideas are being heard? Just last week I was in a meeting during which I suggested a solution to a problem. They totally ignored me. Twenty minutes later, someone else suggested exactly the same idea almost verbatim and, low and behold, the entire group embraced it enthusiastically and gave him the credit. It is so frustrating - what can I do?"
I have been asked this question or some variation of it numerous times and thought it would be of value to address it in my column.
Let's use the following scenario as an illustration: Bob from New Product Development, Sara from Marketing and Jack from the engineering team are in a meeting with you to discuss the development and launch of a new customer relationship management software product.
Bob is excited about the potential of this new product and thinks that it could revolutionize the way companies manage their customer relations. He also feels that it can give your company a huge competitive boost.
Sara is concerned that all the capabilities and features together with the associated price of this new product are beyond what most companies would require which would make marketing hard and would limit the potential customer base.
Jack is feeling somewhat overwhelmed by what he perceives to be a complicated and intricate engineering project and has concerns about resources, costs and schedule.
An   innovative   idea   occurs   to   you   that a ppears to address all of their concerns. Here are some tips to help persuade and influence others.

Paradoxically, the key to being heard is to first make sure that the other(s) are feeling heard and understood. This is accomplished by reflecting back to them how you have understood them and checking for accuracy. The importance of this first step cannot be overemphasized.

You might say: "Bob, if I understand you correctly, you see enormous potential for this new CRM product in terms of impact on our bottom line, while you, Sara, are concerned about it being too much for the typical user thereby limiting our market. And Jack, you expressed concern about the engineering challenges involved. Have I understood you all accurately?"

As they confirm your understanding, you will almost hear an audible sigh of relief as they experience the validation of being heard and understood.

Once you have demonstrated understanding of their concerns, you are now qualified to offer your idea by saying: "Having understood what your concerns are, an idea that may be worth consideration is to design a base system with the option of the various add-on features as required by specific customers, much the way automobiles are sold with add-on options as suited to each individual buyer's tastes"

By first demonstrating understanding of the other party's point of view, they will be much more receptive to hearing your thoughts.

When you present your idea it is important to bring it full-circle by explaining how it appears to address their concerns.

In our example you could say: "If we were to go with the add-on options idea, it would broaden our target market, Sara, rather than limit it. Jack, it would seem to me that by breaking the project up into separate add-on components, it would make it more manageable."

It is very compelling when you link your ideas explicitly to their concerns, and show them how their concerns are addressed. In addition, they feel a degree of ownership over your idea in as much as their concerns helped to drive your creativity. (In fact it is a good idea to acknowledge explicitly how their concerns contributed to your thinking).

As a final measure to make sure that you have been heard, it is useful to conclude with a question that elicits a response. This will check the extent to which they were listening and also engage them in further discussion of your idea.

You might conclude by asking: "What concerns are not addressed by this idea or what might be new concerns that this idea raises?" Another useful question is: "What variations or refinements are there that you can think of that could further develop this idea?"

Using this strategy of closing with an open-ended question, forces them to tacitly acknowledge your idea thereby precluding them from ignoring it only to have someone present it later as their own.

This four-step process is a very powerful technique. Practice it until you use it fluently, seamlessly and intuitively because it is key to the mastery of persuasion and influence.

About1About Lapin Negotiation Services


Lapin Negotiation Services offers training, consulting, advising and executive coaching in negotiation, business diplomacy and dispute resolution services.


Our proprietary and aggressively results oriented services are designed to help your leadership, teams and individuals master the essential negotiation, relationship-building and conflict management skills that increase revenues, decrease the high cost of conflict  and build  strong working relationships .

Our skilled specialists will:
  • Help your organization build a highly effective negotiation competency and culture which translates into increased revenue and strong business relationships.
  • Train and prepare your sales teams for sales presentations
  • Develop high impact, customized learning systems to develop advanced skills and powerful techniques in negotiation, dispute resolution and relationship management.
  • Provide advice, strategy, guidance and representation in live negotiation challenges
  • Facilitate, mediate and advise in dispute resolution
  • Create a culture of collaboration by guiding and training teams and divisions to engage in dialogue, to negotiate and to partner
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Raphael Lapin

Raphael Lapin, a Harvard trained negotiation and communication specialist. He is adjunct professor of law at Whittier School of Law in Southern California and visiting professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Raphael trains and advises Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world and is the author of "Working with Difficult People" (DK Penguin Essential Managers Series)
Working with Difficult People
 Learn more about Raphael Lapin's book, "Working with Difficult People" by clicking on the image above