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Whether it’s in-person or virtual, PMI events give you the right skills to complete amazing projects. In this blog, whether it be our Virtual Experience Series, PMI Training (formerly Seminars World) and our inaugural PMI® Global Summit 2022, experienced event presenters past, present and future from the entire PMI event family share their knowledge on a wide range of issues important to project managers.

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Recent Posts

Presentation Recap: Ask Me Anything: Perspectives from PMI Board of Directors

Presentation Recap: Session 310: Leading an Inclusive Project Team

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Presentation Recap: Session 315: Best Practices in the Art of Survival with Strategic Planning

Presentation Recap: Session 313: Project Takeover: Transition toward Success

Viewing Posts by Carlene Szostak

Presentation Recap: Negotiation and Persuasion: Tactics to Influence and Win

By Carlene Szostak
Managing Partner, Quintina Solutions

Recently I had the privilege to present Negotiation and Persuasion: Tactics to Influence and Win at PMI's Virtual Experience Series: PMXPO on 24 March. This global event attracted more than 64,000 attendees. It was a great event with featured speakers, exhibits and networking activities and the dueling pianos took my breath away.

Spending time with the participants talking about negotiations was a fantastic experience, and there were so many questions in chat I couldn't get to them all. I am taking this opportunity to respond to many of the questions I couldn't cover.


Question #1 - What if someone is not honorable or doesn't care about the relationship?

Great question. 

Unfortunately, there are some unethical negotiators out there. When I encounter a negotiator who utilizes unethical tactics, I am very cautious. You never know what trick they will try and pull, and any agreement with them may not ultimately be honored, or they may not even be the decision-maker.

I would first follow rule number #1, research. Then I am already better prepared to handle both good and not so honorable negotiations. My research would include the person and/or company that I am negotiating. In addition, I would talk to others who have spoken or worked with them. I might get a heads up on what I might be facing. There is so much that research provides; the person, the direction or problem the company is facing, or information gathered that might be misrepresented later. Knowledge is power. So again, research is always my first step.

If, in the negotiation, I realize that there may be some relationship issues, I try to adopt a collaborative approach. Finding out how the outcome can create mutual benefits and laser focus on that strategy. Finally, I make sure that I never stoop to their level.

Question #2 - What techniques are commonly used to prepare for a negotiation to achieve a win-win?

I would use start with being really, really prepared. Then the following six steps should be part of my outline and preparation.

  1. What do I want from this negotiation?
  2. Ask yourself why is the other party negotiating? What do you have that they need?
  3. What is my relationship with the other party?
  4. Is there a cultural difference I need to keep in mind?
  5. Learn about BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement)
  6. If there is a money piece to the negotiations, develop points that support your money argument BUT don't use money in the negotiations, just develop value points.


Question #3 - Is it detrimental to the negotiation to come into it with a "battle" mentality?

It will depend on your definition of "battle." If I had to define "negotiations," it would be more of a strategic game. Two players, both with an objective that the other might not be aware of, that once information, expectations, and positions are shared, a better outcome can emerge than the separate original plans.


Question #4 - Any good tips on practicing negotiations? Seems difficult to train without another party.

Practice early and often. With my clients, I talk about "leaning into discomfort." What I mean by that is everything, including negotiations, becomes easier the more you do it. Practice with your vendors; some might take a cash payment for a discount. Or maybe with your kids on bedtimes and responsibilities. Look around. There are lots of places to "practice." 


Question #5 - Is there any nonverbal courses on how to read better a person?

I believe that numerous courses are available, including LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, etc. However, I hone my non-verbal skills understanding by practicing observing. I also teach a class on Powerful Storytelling, and one of the exercises we practice is guessing an emotion by reading a nursery rhyme. Find your favorite. I use Mary Had A Little Lamb and then have each participant or friend act out a feeling (confused, angry, shy, aggressive), and everyone guesses. It’s a fun game you can play with friends, family, or even kids.


Question #6 - How do you persuade someone who is confrontational?

Confrontational is an interesting word. Are they acting like a bully? Are they just loud? Are they being aggressive? Look at it first from their lens. Is it cultural behavior? Based on what I learned, my actions would be different. But at a high level, I would lower my voice, look them straight in the eyes and say that we should reschedule for a later time.


Question #7 - What do you do when the other person talks talks talks with no break for you to talk?

I would ask myself why do I think the other person is talking, talking, talking…are they insecure? Are they not the key stakeholder? Are they nervous? Are they new to negotiations? After I made my guess, I would wait and listen. Remember, silence is power. Eventually, the time will either run out, or they will take a breath. I would then ask what ONE thing they are hoping to get out of this conversation. Then use the 7 seconds and see what happens.


Question #8 - Recommendations for books on how to deal with difficult people?

There are a lot of great books out there on negotiations. Some of my favorites are:

  • Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (2011), Fisher, Ury, Patton
  • The Only Negotiating Guide You'll Ever Need: 101 Ways to Win Every Time in Every Situation (2017), Stark, Flaherty.
  • Negotiation Genius: How to Overcome Obstacles and Achieve Brilliant Results and the Bargaining Table and Beyond (2007), Malhotra, Bazerman.

I just started to read Black Belt Negotiating (2007), Lee & Tabuchi, so I'll let you know how that goes.
Of course, if you find others, please share. I am always looking for what is new and different!


Question #9 - What if they pull the 7 seconds of silence on ME?

Ha, ha…Leonardo da Vinci said that "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence." If my opponent also appeared to be using the 7 seconds on me, I would act a little crazy and probably laugh at the end of the 7 seconds. Of course, I would ask them, "why the silence?" and wait 7 seconds and see what happens.


I had a great time presenting, and the entire presentation will be available on demand through the end of January 2023. Visit PMI Virtual Experience Series 2022 for more details. I am looking forward to seeing you at another event!

Posted by Carlene Szostak on: April 01, 2022 12:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

"A statesman is an easy man, he tells his lies by rote. A journalist invents his lies and rams them down your throat. So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbors vote!"

- W.B. Yeats