Practicing with a professional actor does boost your negotiation skills!

Marianne Slotboom
Dec 16, 2021

In general, we negotiate about 80% of our time. It is one of the key skills to obtain influence in your (work) environment and let yourself hear. A constructive negotiation is the best way to solve conflicts and reach win-win situations for the team.

So imagine, if you feel you're not good at negotiating, and you tend to avoid these situations. This will have an immense impact on your added value to the team. You miss the opportunities to influence with your ideas, stand your ground and achieve your goals.

Did you know that men initiate negotiations four times more often then women? It is investigated that in general, women feel more uncomfortable negotiating.

In life in general, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

That is why everyone has to learn how to negotiate well.

I have been a professor at EADA Business School for more than 10 years and one of the classes where students tell me they learn most, are the negotiating classes. They learn things that they didn't imagine were important in negotiations.

Most of us think that, in order to be successful in negotiations, we have to have our arguments ready, convince the other person with our well prepared reasons and get what we need. But that is what mediocre negotiators do.

If we prepare with our arguments only, we forget to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person, we don't connect and we forget to listen to the other person. Listening to understand is the most important skill when it comes to negotiating. When you really understand the needs and interests of the other person, you can put yours together and reach a win-win. This is impossible without being curious about the needs of the other.

Listening to understand is the most important skill when it comes to negotiating.

Some students ask me: Don’t you lose track when you listen to the needs and interests of the other? Maybe you got taken away, be persuaded by their arguments and forget about your own arguments?

This is not the case when you prepare well on your own needs. Apart from connecting with the other person, your preparation is key. Improvisation will always lead to a disaster.

What do you have to prepare?

  • Know your key interests, needs, goals.
  • Always prepare variable aspects (e.g. apart from salary, you can think of flexibility in working hours, compensation for certain tasks, get more tasks of your interest, and all other aspects that are important for you).
  • Make sure you know what is most important for you and that you can interchange these aspects with your counterpart.
  • Prepare on your alternative. What will you do if you don't reach an agreement that fulfills your needs?
  • Know well when you will be satisfied with the agreement, when will it feel fair for you, or what at least will you achieve.
  • Use objective information, e.g. if you negotiate your salary make sure you know what the salaries of the people in the same positionsn are.
In life in general, you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.

As it comes to the other person, what to prepare?

  • Know the other person, take time to put yourself in their shoes. Be curious about their needs, interests, situation, alternatives.
  • If you want, make an empathy map of this person: what is their background, what are main concerns, problems they might fear, gains for them.
  • Prepare what you still need to know about the other person, the information you need to gather during the negotiation process by asking the right questions. Don't assume, don't guess, ask!


So what are the key - unexpected - skills students in my classes learn?

  1. To connect and listen.
  2. To ask questions because they really want to know.
  3. To leave their assumptions apart and ask.
  4. Use their sincere curiosity and try to understand.
  5. Prepare for a "no" and how to respond to this.
  6. They learn how to ask better (open ended) questions.
  7. They become aware of the many assumptions they make without checking.
  8. They learn the importance of silence in the negotiations, the less you speak the better you listen and the more you learn.
  9. They become more assertive and know that it takes two to tango!

These are all unexpected and very important skills you have to practice before you can be a better negotiator. Without practice no improvement!

Women in tech workshop on Negotiating

How do we practice these skills at Yellow?

You can only learn from practicing if you receive detailed, professional feedback on it. The way we work is that you will receive this feedback from a professional actor/trainer who is very capable of putting himself in the shoes of the other person.

  • You will practice your real situation and the actor will play the role of the other person. He will  give you precise feedback about the effect of your negotiation style on him. That is something the real person almost never will tell you and you miss that information in real life.
  • You will learn what the effect of your arguments is on the other person, your way of questioning, the way you connect (or not), the way you listen, how you come across.
  • You will learn how to connect better and state your arguments in a stronger way.
  • You will reach win-win solutions that are benefitting your relationship with that person.
  • After having received detailed feedback, you will get the possibility to try out other strategies immediately in the same conversation. You will see the effects of changing your strategy and you will never forget afterwards. 
  • You will really practice what it takes to be a good negotiator!
  • After a session of only 2 intensive hours of practicing and watching other people practice you will be a better negotiator and prepared to put it into practice immediately after the session. 

We work with a group of maximum 10 participants, Koos Vos, a professional trainer/actor to give you feedback. And your learning process will be led by an experienced trainer who will bring the feedback together and help you to get the best out of your learning.

Please contact us by mail if you would like to receive more  information about this workshop.

We call it our Negotiation Work-out.

Koos Vos, professional actor and trainer.

Marianne Slotboom
The author
Marianne Slotboom

Marianne is a strategic partner and practical developer of human behavior that helps leaders, teams and organizations become more focused and effective, elevating their value to customers. In 2015, Marianne founded Yellow Training to answer the call for more inspirational and creative leadership in the modern workplace.

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