Negotiating with a Windbag – February 2012 Master Negotiator

Man Yelling into microphone - Peter Barron Stark

Have you ever negotiated with someone who will just not shut up? This makes it hard for you to make a point or get a word in. Plus, it’s difficult to close a deal or gain a concession when they won’t stop talking. We have three tips that will help you in this very specific situation.

Tip number one: When they finally do shut up and you are able to open your mouth, do not provide any new information. People who have diarreah of the mouth tend to take off on tangents when presented with new information and make it harder for you to reach your goal, not easier.

Tip number two: When you do open your mouth, instead of telling your counterpart anything, ask them only closed-ended questions. Close-ended questions can be answered with a simple yes or no or an alternative choice as a possible response. For example, “Will this product be used in San Diego or at your manufacturing facility in Mexico?” Either response is close-ended and is going to help you to move your negotiation forward.

Tip number three: Utilize transition lines that bring people back to the focus of the negotiation. If your counterpart is telling you their life history, you can respond with the following type of transition. “That’s a great point. Tell me why you think this model is the best match for your company.”

So, the next time you encounter a windbag in your negotiation that won’t shut up, remember, don’t provide any new information. Two, ask only close-ended questions. And three, build great transition lines that bring the focus back to your goal.

Next month we’ll discuss what to do when you are faced with the opposite problem: a very silent counterpart.

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