When negotiating, we often follow our instincts and intuition. However, negotiation as a discipline is often counter-intuitive. Best practice suggests that we often go against our instincts and follow behaviors which at first pass do not seem to be appropriate to the desired outcome. A recent article posted on the Forbes Leadership Forum on forbes.com entitled Three Tricks That Make Negotiations Work by Richard Shore discusses three not-so-obvious strategies that seem counter-intuitive, yet make perfect sense.

1. Don’t look at the person who is talking; look at the people who are listening.
In group settings, people naturally tend to focus on the speaker. In a negotiation, that person commonly is a lawyer rather than a principal. He or she is trained to deliver a pitch or make an argument effectively. This includes not only speech, but also tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. The negotiator is trying to control the message—and usually succeeds. Often, that is not a true reflection of their actual state of mind or your opposing party’s true settlement position. So, focus your attention on key representatives of the opposing party other than the speaker. They are more likely to convey their true frame of mind through facial expressions and body language. Because they are not in the spotlight, their facial expressions and body language can be quite informative, like a “tell” in poker. Negotiation tells can be particularly valuable when someone other than the speaker is the true decision maker—for example, when the in-house client representative is calling the shots on settlement, even though the party’s lawyer does most of the talking.

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