Negotiate Using Empathy

Josh Burkwist

Josh Burkwist


VP of Talent


November 1, 2022


What does it mean to negotiate?

The Oxford Dictionary defines 'negotiation' as a discussion to arrange or agree to something.

We all negotiate every day but often don't realize it.

  • Your child getting dressed for the day
  • The amount of screen time your children get daily
  • Holiday destinations
  • Who will make dinner
  • Specs of a project changing
  • Stopping a coworker's annoying behavior

The key to negotiation is getting the other person to consider your perspective, which is different from getting them to agree that you are correct.

Read that again.

You're not negotiating to be 'more right' than the other person. You just need them to consider or agree with your perspective!

How do you do this? By using empathy!

Empathy means feeling with others and taking their perspective. Do this by intensely listening to the other person and showing a sincere desire to understand what the other person is experiencing or expressing. Doing this will help you learn where the other person is coming from and why their understanding or perspective makes sense to them.

Verbally recognize the other person's perspective and seek to understand "why" they have that perspective. From where does it come? Use that information to move the conversation toward your view.

Analyze the person's body language, word choice, and tone. Make a mental note of any inconsistencies. It's vital not just to hear them. You must listen to their words!

If someone says the amount of travel is acceptable but mentions the importance of family time while answering other questions, you'll want to make a note and define what that specifically means to them.

Silence is your friend. While uncomfortable, embrace this silence and allow it to happen. Do this by counting, "One one-thousand, two one-thousand . . ." up to 10 before saying a single word! The other person will almost always start talking before you get to 10. Once they begin talking again, don't interrupt them. Often this is when they start 'singing' their feelings and thoughts to you.

Try using empathy as a tool in your negotiations. Did it make a difference? How so?

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