Civil Negotiation and Mediation Blog

Persuasion in Negotiation: Tips from Washington, D.C.

Posted by Nancy Hudgins on Thu, Jan 17, 2013

persuasion in negotiation

I have been extolling the virtues of listening as a condition precedent to persuasion in mediation and negotiation.  It was interesting to read that political pollsters are touting the same thing.

The Washington Post had a long article last week quoting Republican messaging maestro Frank Luntz.  What better place than Washington, D.C., to persuade people to use persuasion techniques? 

Politicians on both sides of the aisle should take note.  And those of us who try to persuade every day can learn these techniques as well.

Here are steps Luntz proposes:

1.  Listen.  “When people feel they’re heard and understood, they’ll listen (to you).”  The key is to listen to them first.

2.  Be more empathetic.  If people think you understand them, you have a better chance of persuading.

3.  Stop lecturing.  It shuts people down.  Who likes to be lectured to?

4.  Show respect, not disdain.  This should go without saying, but it’s said because it happens all too frequently.

5.  Reframe questions.  A reframed question can lead your negotiating opposite to the answer you want.  Luntz suggests two different ways of talking about taxes:  Should the rich pay more? versus Should Washington take more?

6.  Humanize the issues you care about.  Use metaphors and examples that connect emotionally rather than intellectually.

7.  Be optimistic.

I’ve also been reading Robert Caro’s third volume on Lyndon Johnson, Master of the Senate.  One of the strategies Johnson employed after he was elected to the Senate in 1948 was to listen to fellow senators, particularly Richard Russell of Georgia.  He made Russell an ally, in part, just by listening to him.