The West Australian: Using Negotiation Skills to Influence People in Everyday Life

Julia was invited to share her opinion with The West Australian on how to use negotiation skills to influence people.

In the article titled ‘Using Negotiation Skills to Influence People in Everyday Life’, Julia explains how people can apply some elementary negotiation skills (similar to what is used by the FBI), to achieve better outcomes in personal situations too:

If it’s good enough for the FBI and New York Police Department negotiators, then surely it could be good enough for us?


The professionals have a 95 per cent success rate of peaceful resolution when it hostage takers and terrorists. Naturally, the world only hears shut the percent the 5% that go wrong, given the interest in stories about bloodshed.


So, what is it that these professional negotiators are doing and how can we apply those same techniques and skills in our everyday lives? To start at the beginning, every time we hear or say the

words “I want” or “I need” we are in a negotiation. There is also a common misconception that negotiation only applies when there is money or haggling involved.


Is your partner annoying you and you want them to do more around the house? Do you need your colleague to step up and pull their weight a bit more?

Do you want your neighbour to chip in for that new fence on that common boundary line? Is there an overdue conversation with your boss to ask about that pay rise you want? Everyday there are countless times we are unknowingly in negotiations.


By applying some elementary negotiation skills (yes the same ones used by the FBI and NYPD), we are more likely to supercharge the results we achieve in our attempts to influence and negotiate with others. A principles that underpins this is knowing that the art of negotiation is letting someone else have your way.


I apply this when my FIFO husband is away and I’m struggling to get the kids ready for school, while also preparing for my own workday ahead. Rather than shouting at them to get ready, I use negotiation skills to help me move towards my ideal outcome, which is a peaceful exit of the house without raising my voice.


It goes something like this. “It’s almost time to leave for school, so do you want to get ready now, or have 15 more minutes of play time?” They always choose more play time. Then I back it in with “Sure. What happens when I say that 15 minutes is up?” They say that they will come straight away, which works for me 98% of the time. The other 2% leaves me shouting at them, but my strike rate is still pretty good.


Humans are wired to be defensive, it’s part of our primitive requirements to protect ourselves. So when we are confronted with someone trying to influence us, more often than not, our first response is to put up our walls of defence and look for ways to disagree.


To tap into some negotiation skills and get more of what you want, here are some common principles to try:

  1. Ask, don’t sell. It’s far more effective to ask, rather than tell. People want autonomy, so taking that away by telling people what you need them to do isn’t effective. Use open-style questions that make your negotiation partner stop and think.
  2. Listen more than you talk. Sounds simple, but isn’t easy. Ask your question then shut up. Ride out the silence. No one has ever died from awkward silence as far as I’m aware. They will eventually say something. Talking through that silence gives the impression that you’re not interested. Showing you’re not interested is one way to get people offside, which means they will be defensive.
  3. Slow down to speed up. Using rapid fire questions isn’t going to help you. Slowing down your conversation by talking slowly, reducing your word-count and letting the silence play out, will calm your conversation. Panic and pressure makes us do and say things that aren’t helpful. Slow is your friend. Less is more These are all skills that we can learn, so give them try next time there is something you want or need.

As featured on The West Australian on 26 April 2022.