Negotiation is Product Management

Chris Voss, Author of Never Split the Difference, shares how to pitch a new idea to senior stakeholders and how to stay calm during a challenging conversation.

Product managers negotiate every day. Whether it’s pitching a new idea, motivating the team, or asking for a raise, product managers need to know how to collaborate and influence.

However, negotiation is not a part of the standard product management “curriculum.” So I interviewed one of the world’s leading experts in negotiation to his most effective techniques and how product managers can apply them to their everyday responsibilities.

Chris is the Author of Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depends on It, one of the most popular books on negotiation, and the CEO of The Black Swan Group. He began his career as the FBI’s lead international kidnapping negotiator. As you can imagine, Chris has negotiated some extremely challenging situations! He says his experience translated to the business world quite well because you’re always collaborating with human beings, so the underlying psychology is the same.

In this episode, Chris shares several actionable strategies and tactics for negotiating and the psychology behind why they work. One such strategy is to give your counterpart a sense of control. Chris says this strategy works because humans have a natural desire for autonomy. He then shares several tips for putting this strategy into practice, including asking “what” and “how” questions instead of demanding information and adapting your tone of voice to avoid inciting a fight or flight response from your counterpart.

He goes on to share several more strategies including how repeating a few of your counterpart’s words can help build rapport and how to counteract humans’ natural tendency to overweight fear of loss when making decisions.

If you’re pitching a new idea to your boss, or asking for a raise, listen to this episode!

Here are the highlights:

  • Chris describes how his experiences in the FBI translated into business (3:20)
  • Chris breaks down the most common negotiation mistakes (4:45)
  • Chris explains why deference and giving people a sense of control is so effective and how product managers can apply it in their negotiations (5:55)
  • Chris’ recommendations for asking questions during a negotiation (12:20)
  • Chris describes how mirroring can be used for more effective negotiation (13:35)
  • Chris explains how to use fear when pitching a new idea or negotiating a salary increase (16:35)
  • Chris’s recommendations for staying calm during a stressful negotiation (22:10)

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