They say ‘opposites attract’. While that may be true, it doesn’t always result in a positive experience for all involved. Let’s take introverts and extroverts as an example. I suspect that most introverts would prefer to negotiate with someone similarly inclined, thus creating an even playing field and a more satisfying experience. But increasingly, in our extrovert-driven society, introverts are required to negotiate with extroverts.
I confess this is something I gave very little, if any, thought to for most of my life. As an extrovert, I blithely careened through life with little appreciation for the effect my extrovertism may be having on friends, family, colleagues or acquaintances who were not similarly inclined. Having a daughter who most definitely falls in the introvert category changed that. It opened my eyes and my perspective. It’s one of the reasons I am now such a fierce advocate and proponent of the importance of active listening in negotiations.
I read up on the subject, including Susan Cain’s ground-breaking book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. I came to recognize that as the world rewards extroverts and encourages a bombastic attack on life, we have come to talk over, minimize and discount the voices of introverts. This is a mistake. We miss out on valuable input, insights, perceptions, and counterbalances. We lose the benefit of the creativity that comes from recognizing and respecting different approaches.
INTROVERT VS EXTROVERT
People often assume that the difference between introverts and extroverts is that the former are shy and the latter are outgoing. That oversimplifies the issue. Introverts tend to be more introspective, often preferring to work alone, and typically thinking through ideas before speaking. Extroverts tend to prefer to work in groups, formulating their ideas and views as they speak.
BENEFITS OF INTROVERSION IN NEGOTIATION
Our traditional definition of success in negotiation was based on a misapprehension that toughness carries the day and that the person talking the loudest and longest wins. Both are myths. In fact, introverts increased tendency to listen intently; ask deep questions; seek to understand the other person’s position and needs; prepare thoroughly; and avoid speaking without considered thought are all significant assets and key skills required in negotiation.
In fact, it is this ability to approach a negotiation, as a conversation wherein you seek to get deeper understanding of the underlying and unstated needs, that allows for new perspectives and opens paths for more creative unanticipated outcomes that serve the higher good for all involved.
Perhaps it’s time we dispelled the myth that introverts are at a disadvantage in negotiation and started to view the traits of introverts as a strength rather than a liability.
NEGOTIATING TIPS FOR INTROVERTS:
I MENTALLY PREPARE
Introverts need to get into the right mindset to negotiate. Understand that while this may be difficult, it is possible. Recognize any limiting beliefs about your aspiration levels and expectations in advance of the negotiation and flip those beliefs that don’t serve you (i.e. any beliefs or expectations that the process will be challenging and/or that your chances of success are in any way limited).
Going into a negotiation with confidence about your ability to achieve your desired outcomes increases your effectiveness and ability to do so. Studies show that our expectations affect both our motivation levels and our outcomes.
II UNDERSTAND YOUR VOICE IS VALID
Introverts’ voices are valid. When an introvert negotiates with an extrovert, they have to own that fundamental truth at their core. Own that voice. Recognize its undeniable value. Just because introverts don’t talk ‘a million miles a minute’ (as my daughter no doubt perceives me), or their voice might not ‘boom’, or they don’t talk over others in the room to make their point, does not mean that their point isn’t important.
In fact, I invite you to consider that because introverts tend to give fulsome thought to their ideas before giving them voice arguably makes their point of view even more valuable to consider in the moment. Introverts’ opinions matter. Yet, if, in a negotiation, they don’t own their voice, the value of their contributions is lost altogether. This is a significant loss.
III LEARN AND TRUST YOUR NEGOTIATION STYLE
There are various negotiation styles. The Harvard Business Review has an assessment to figure out an individual’s true negotiation style. While I recommend everyone take this test, it is especially relevant for when an introvert negotiates with an extrovert. If an introvert doesn’t understand or trust their true negotiation style, they are more likely to be overpowered and talked over and the negotiation will be taken over by the extrovert. Knowing and trusting your natural negotiation style is a foundational building block to allowing you to step into your most powerful negotiator.
IV STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
An introvert may think when they negotiate with an extrovert that they have to match the extrovert’s level of energy. That is not true. And it often leads to ceding power to the extrovert because s/he is in their element while the introvert is stuck trying to fit into their perception of how to negotiate as an extrovert, which often ends badly for the introvert. Thus once an introvert finds their true negotiation style they should negotiate from within their power realm, recognizing it as their strength.
V USE YOUR INTROVERTISM AS AN ADVANTAGE
Let’s be honest, we have all seen extroverts talk themselves into messy situations. As an introvert, use that to your advantage. Let the extrovert talk their way into a corner. Then, using your natural negotiation style, point out what just happened. Don’t gloat, but rather, come from a place of compassion, rapport-building and empathy and use the moment to build a bridge for more open, respectful dialogue. Reflect back what you understand the position of the other person to be, ask deep questions, uncover and understand the needs (both stated and unstated) and use it to come to a better outcome for all.
Hopefully you got some helpful tips and insights from this blog post – whether you’re an introvert, extrovert or ambivert. If you have, be sure to comment on this post letting me know your thoughts. If you’d like to explore working with me to up-level your negotiation skills, feel free to book a Breakthrough Session