Does the thought of negotiation have you breaking out in a sweat or in hives? Would you rather do anything than have to negotiate with someone? If so, this episode is for you!

In many cases, clinics and job-seekers see recruiters like me as being unnecessary.  Superfluous to their requirements.  A waste of time and therefore money.  

They think they don’t need us – especially as here Downunder in Godzone Aotearoa New Zealand, we’re a nation of avid DIYers.

After all, because you think you can do your own recruitment – how hard can it be? – why pay someone to do it for you when you don’t need to?

However, it’s when recruitment isn’t part of your job description that using an agency like VetStaff can save you not only time, but money too.

Recruitment agencies earn their keep when you need them to negotiate on your behalf

Because many people don’t know how to negotiate, they end up walking away, compromising or conceding when they didn’t need to. 

Being a negotiator gets your heart rate up!

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been successful in getting job-seekers the jobs they want and clinics the new team member they want.

These have been the times when one side was willing to give up because they didn’t think the other side would be willing to negotiate with them…   

The times when neither part thought there was any common ground in which to start negotiating…

Most people walk away from negotiations because they don’t know how to negotiate or they lack self worth – they think they’re not worth the effort.

Don’t be either of those two people!

You need to practice every day to stay sharp

It’s when you’re caught on the back foot that you end up costing your clinic money – more money than it would have cost you to use a recruitment agency from the get-go.

Scenarios to practice your negotiation skills

When you need to convince a client the treatment plan you’re recommending to them is the best course of action.

When you want your kids to tidy their rooms.

When you want your family to watch the movie you’ve been hanging out to watch, and not theirs.

Pycho Cybernetics changed my life

I’ve always been interested in psychology – because negotiation is understanding human psychology – how someone is likely to respond to certain words and/or actions. 

I think it started when my dad’s best friend bought me a book while I was still at high school – Psycho Cybernetics by Dr Maxwell Maltz.  

I think Psycho Cybernetics changed the course of my life because it introduced the power the brain has in our every day lives. We can literally change the course of our lives by changing our thought patterns.

That’s what happened to me.

The book that changed my life!

Never Split the Difference: negotiate as if your life depended on it by Chris Voss

A book I highly recommend

When it comes to negotiating skills, I’ve read quite a few books on the topic and today I especially want to talk about “Never Split the Difference:  negotiating as if your life depended on it”, by Chris Voss – former international terrorist & hostage negotiator for the FBI

Until I read Never Split the Difference, I always thought the best negotiation outcome was for people to meet in the middle – to split the difference.  

But after reading Never Split the Difference I realised that when people do that – meet in the middle – both parties feel like they’ve lost something … that they’ve given up something … whereas in fact, done correctly, highly skilled negotiators can have both parties feel like they’ve both won. 

Which is something I always aim for when I’m negotiating between a clinic and a new-hire.   I want both the clinic and their new team member to feel excited and can’t wait to start working together. 

I also want both parties to want to either use my services again in the future or recommend my services – which isn’t going to happen if someone feels like I’ve shafted them. 

Therefore, I believe when I negotiate I do so with the highest level of personal and professional integrity possible.

Voss starts off in chapter one with what he refers to as the “new rules”.

Most people, when negotiating, want to have the first and last word. 

They think that they gain control by going first – to get their point across first.  Whereas in fact, the opposite is true. 

When you invite the other party to lead, you get information from them.  Information you wouldn’t have if you went first.

Voss labours the point heavily that you need to get the other person talking as much as you can.   And then listen.  Always be listening.

So, the new rule extends to doing more listening than talking and to let the other person go first.

In the second chapter he introduces ‘mirroring’ – this is something I use automatically now since I did my NLP training in the 1990s. 

Mirroring usually refers to someone’s physical posture.  But when you can’t actually see the other party – for example, over the phone, mirroring then extends to their cadence, words and tone. 

Subconsciously, us humans like and trust the people who’re most like us.  In all sorts of small and big ways.   The more alike we can make ourselves to other people, the more likely they are to trust us. 

That’s why it’s important to always look for common ground when talking with someone as a way of building rapport with them.

Mirroring includes active listening. 

Some people actively listen by gaining clarity on what the other person just said. 

However, Voss uses mirroring in the context of repeating the other peron’s last three words.  For clarity here, Voss refers to “the other person” as “your counterpart”.

Because mirroring is oh-so very powerful, you must have integrity when you do this – your objective must be that both parties can win – thus you’re striving for a win/win outcome. 

Here’s an excerpt from a YouTube video – which will be on the PawsClawsWetNoses dot fm website if you want to watch him in person.

In this video – which was recorded in December 2018 Voss uses examples of different ways of mirroring.  I said he was originally from Iowa – however, as you’ll hear, he’s got a pretty heavy New York accent for someone who hails from Iowa!

He alerts you to the one ‘dangerous’ word to listen out for.

Chris Voss – The Black Swan Group – “Never Split the Difference

Many people think that active listening and empathy is about telling someone how they’re feeling.  But that’s not the case. 

Just about everyone hates having someone tell them how they feel. But almost everyone loves feeling validated.

So instead of telling, ask. You can do this by making tentative and questioning statements that start with phrases like:

“It seems like….”

“It sounds like…”

“So is it true that…”

The moment you start discounting someone else’s feelings or emotions, you’ve lost them.

Voss throws everything we think we know about negotiation out the window. 

Many of us have been taught that getting a ‘yes’ out of someone means you’re on your way to getting the outcome you want.  

Lots of manipulative sleezy salespeople use this technique, as do telemarketers.

They’ll ask you lots of little yes-type questions – it’s a nice day today, isn’t it?  

The traffic’s heavy, isn’t it? 

Do you have a few minutes?

Can you give me this?

Does that make sense?

Do you want this positive gain?

Can you tell me more about this?

Do you want to get this done?

Go for the ‘no’ answer question

On the other hand, Voss recommends going for ‘no’ answer questions – for example:

Is now a bad time?

Would it be out of the question to [whatever] ……………….?

Would it be ridiculous to [whatever] …………….

Would it be impossible …………..

Is it a bad idea?

Am I out of line?

Have you given up on?

trust has to be paramount

When we feel like we have to agree with people, we feel used and manipulated. 

When we’re negotiating, we want the other person to trust us and to be worthy of that trust.   As I said earlier, for me it’s critical both parties would recommend and/or use my services again so integrity is paramount. 

Manipulating someone to say what you want – a yes – is not the route to get that trust!

When we’re being manipulated to say yes, we want to say ‘no’.  

Voss recommends you do whatever you can to create a few no answers as a way of relaxing the other person so they feel like they’re in control. 

When we say “no,” we feel in control.   We feel like they have some power.

Because of this, it’s only when we feel safe—like we have some power and control—that we can effectively negotiate. When we feel psychological safety, we can draw on our best brain resources during negotiations. When we don’t feel safe, we go toward the fight or flight response. Our sense of options gets narrower, and our reactions are typically less constructive.

Again – this is a very powerful tool to have in your negotiating toolbox.   The sentence starts “are you ready to give up on………………….”

So let’s say you want your kids to knuckle down at school and do their homework, or study more.  You could ask them whether they’re willing to give up their dream of having or being whatever it is they’ve told you they’re going to be or do or have.  

In chapter 5 Voss introduces another technique – it involves just two words – which he terms having tactical empathy it’s where you’re looking for a specific response…

“That’s right!” – the magical words

It’s the other party’s response of “that’s right”.  

Getting a “you’re right” isn’t the same – you specifically want a “that’s right”.

That’s right! are two transformational words that mean the other person has understood your side. 

If you find yourself saying them to the other person then it means the tables have been turned and you’re the one that’s being negotiated, you’re not the lead negotiator!

In this video – produced by his company The Black Swan Group, Chris Voss explains Tactical Empathy at a conference he was presenting at.

I’ll load the full video on the show notes page because he refers to photos … I also edited out some extraneous stuff which wasn’t relevant here but you might be interested in.

In this video Voss refers to his term “tactical empathy”.

A couple of minutes later, he gives an example of how important personal integrity is when you’re negotiating.

I hope you’ve found these couple of negotiation tips helpful.

I really recommend you read the book – Never Split the Difference

You can purchase it locally through Whitcoulls, PaperPlus, The Warehouse, Mighty Ape and Fishpond.  Or you can visit and find another local supplier.  Here’s what the Penguin website looks like:

PENGUIN.CO.NZ – where you can purchase Never Split the Difference here in Godzone Aotearoa New Zealand

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Now, changing the subject slightly – make sure you’re FOLLOWING this podcast on whatever platform you listen to it through because coming up next week is Dr Alejandra Arbe – who’s currently a PhD Candidate for The University of Adelaide in the field of Veterinary Workforce and Moral Distress.  

Dr Ali is also a member of several groups that aim to improve the wellbeing of veterinarians as well as being a mentor for new graduates.  

Ale’s the recently elected president of the AVA South Australia committee and has been the primary author on three original articles published in 2017, 2019 and 2020.   Her clinical interests include emergency and critical care as well as animal welfare.

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