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Charm is not enough

Ian McMaster ist Chefredakteur des Englisch-Magazins Business Spotlight.
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Es gibt Menschen, die wickeln ihre Verhandlungspartner einfach so um den Finger. Ohne Tricks, nur dank geschickter Überredungskunst. Das können Sie auch lernen - sogar auf Englisch.
Imagine that you and your partner do not agree on where to go on holiday. You suggest Italy; s/he wants to go to Bali. How would you persuade her or him to accept your view? There are many dirty tactics you could use: you could be aggressive; you could talk too much; you could sulk (schmollen); you could refuse to talk about the subject; you could remain inflexible; you could lie, and so on.

In business situations, such dirty tricks, although sometimes used, are not to be recommended. Nevertheless, the ability to persuade others is an important skill. This is true not only in high-powered business negotiations, but also in more mundane (alltäglich) situations such as discussing who is going to do which tasks in the office, or deciding when you and your colleagues will go on holiday. Although the ability to persuade colleagues and business partners depends partly on power relationships, and partly on personality traits such as charm and self-confidence, you can improve your powers of persuasion by following certain simple steps.

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Listen carefully
Try to understand what is really important for the other person. This is your starting point for being able to convince them to accept your view.

Check understanding
If you are not exactly sure what the other person is saying, ask "checking questions". For example: "So are you saying that ...?"; "So, if I've understood you correctly, you would like more time. Is that right?"; "So, your difficulty is the cost. Is that correct?"

Know your facts
Prepare yourself well in advance. Never claim anything that you are not sure of. You may gain a temporary advantage, but you will look silly later.

Signal clearly
Introduce your comments so that the other person is prepared for your message. "I'd just like to explain my/our position ..."; "Can I just give you a little bit of background from our side?" Note the use of "just" to soften the message.

Keep it simple
Having signalled what you want to say, make your comments clear and concise, so there is no misunderstanding. For example: "I'm afraid we could meet your new deadline only by taking on two extra engineers. That would involve costs of around 20,000 Euro, which we would have to insist on you covering."

Be positive
Accept or praise your partner's proposals rather than rejecting them. Then go on to make your own suggestion. Instead of saying "I don't agree", say something positive like, "That's a good suggestion, maybe we could just develop it a little".

Seek agreement
One way to gain acceptance for your views is to ask the other person to agree with statements: "Don't you think that a better way might be to ...?"; "Surely you would agree that this could be done more efficiently by ..."

Don't worry
Remain calm even when things are not going your way. Giving ultimatums - "If you don't agree by next Wednesday, we'll have to pull out of the deal" - should be a last resort.

Be happy
People are more likely to agree with you if you give them positive signals. This means smiling, keeping a friendly tone of voice, and retaining a sense of humour even when things get difficult.

Explain your feelings
Make sure the other person knows how you feel about the situation: "I'm a bit worried that ..."; "We're not really very happy about this development". Also, make clear that you understand their feelings: "I certainly appreciate your position/difficulty. Maybe we can ...".

Be personal
Use the other person's name from time to time. "That's fine, Peter, but maybe we can just look at the question of quality control again."

Going back to the holiday problem, you could simply offer a compromise. For example: "Here's a suggestion. What if we go to Italy this summer, and then go to Bali next spring when we could take a longer break. How does that sound?"
Dieser Artikel ist erschienen am 24.08.2004