In today’s episode, we’re chatting with Linda Swindling, negotiation expert, on how negotiation surrounds both our businesses and our lives.
We explore the inside tips for negotiating effectively, talk about how to have the confidence you need to negotiate, and how to ask outrageously.
If you’re ready to master the art of negotiation, you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s dive in!
Listen to the Podcast 🎤
Watch the Podcast 👀
Show Notes 📓
✅ Check out Linda’s resources on negotiation: https://www.lindaswindling.com/assessments
🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Auxbus! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Get your free offer here: https://auxbus.com/speakerflow
🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/
Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking. We are so excited that you’re here for today’s episode because today, Austin and I are talking to world renowned negotiation, expert Linda Swindling, and we’re talking about how to negotiate in business and in life. Now, Linda has been empowering leaders to negotiate successful outcomes for a very long time in everything from big deals to workplace drama, using practical strategies that work. Linda has authored and co-authored 20 books and has been named one of the top 30 global gurus in negotiation for 2020. Linda knows firsthand about high stakes communication and influencing decision-makers so if you’re ready to master the art of negotiation, you have come to the right place as always. Stay tuned to the end of the episode for awesome resources relating to the show. We hope you liked this one. All right, we are live everybody. Welcome to the show, Linda. It is great to have you.
Linda: Thanks so much for having me.
Taylorr: You got it. I think Austin and I have been looking forward to this one all week.
Austin: Definitely, yes. It’s one of my favorite topics and you’re one of my favorite people so that’s a good combo I must say.
Linda: Oh my gosh. Well, thanks you guys. I don’t know what I can teach the two of you seem to know most of negotiation topics.
Austin: That’s definitely not true.
Taylorr: Austin and I are dumb, that’s fine. And we’re here to learn.
Austin: That’s right.
Taylorr: So, Linda, our favorite question to ask just in the beginning of the show is how did you get into the crazy world of professional speaking? And more importantly, why negotiation out of all topics?
Linda: I had a business coach and she worked with me for a year to grow my practice. I just had a baby and at the end of the year, she said, okay, I don’t get it. You are now a partner, you are making more money, you are spending more time with friends and family and you’re telling me you’re still not happy. And I said, right. And she started kind of quizzing me about what does make you happy? And I said, oh, well, I like doing these training seminars for the managers that I speak to, I’ll do their employee handbook, I was doing employment law, I’ll do their employee handbook, but then I get to talk to them.
And she said, well, you know, you could make a living just doing that. And I was like, she said, are you any good? And I said, well, yeah, I’ve given talks everywhere, and that’s how I promote my business. And I got the best evaluations, so many speakers say that all the time. And she said, well, that’s all you would have to do. You could just speak or write if you wanted to. And I had never heard of that being a career.
Austin: Wow. And so, you just were like, I’m going to dive in with both feet and just do that?
Linda: You know, it took me four years and that’s why when speakers say, oh, I’m just going to quit my and go, new speakers. It’s like, oh gosh, why? You just have to work two jobs for a while. And so, no, I was a mediator and an employment attorney at the time and I worked that for four years and transitioned into speaking. I actually think that’s the smart way nowadays, especially with benefits being so high and everything else.
Austin: Yeah, that makes sense. You’re a great communicator too so that makes sense. I can see why that was a natural handoff.
Linda: It was funny that law was the departure. Because I was a broadcast journalism major and before that I used to dance and act and things and so going to law school was my graduate school because I knew I didn’t want to do all the things I’d done so far. So, you just kind of find yourself back in it and most people that are in AV or speaking, or some sort of IT have always kind of done it in some way or another.
Austin: That makes sense. Okay. I’m curious here, you were an attorney specialized in an employment law, awesome. Negotiation obviously is a part of being an attorney, probably an extremely important part. I’m not an attorney, I cannot speak about this from personal experience. I imagine that that’s an important aspect of it. Did the topic of negotiation though, as a professional speaker arise from being an attorney generally speaking, or was that a specific component of employment law that I’m not thinking about here?
Linda: I ended up because of the sales training and being a waitress, a front desk clerk and I worked in sales in a hotel for a while, going through school. I ended up not knowing that I was using sales principles at law and that’s the basics. So, what happened was I was going to prevent workplace lawsuits. That was my game. I went to all this alternative dispute resolutions courses and special programs and everything, and went to Harvard program on negotiation. How do you teach corporations how to negotiate?
And at the end of one of my programs on make peace, make money, avoid those lawsuits, my client came up to me and this is what happens so much to speakers. My client came up to me and he said, you know those two hours on negotiation? And I said, yes. And he said, that’s all we want. We want a lot of that. Just do that. And so, that’s how the negotiation came about was I have always thought that that’s better, that people get better results by negotiating and all my clients, that’s what they liked when I was practicing law. They’d rather negotiate on behalf of themselves and have an attorney do it for them.
Austin: Okay. Can you explain your own personal perspective about what negotiation means? Can you define that for us?
Linda: Sure. Basically, negotiation is just seeing if there’s a fit. I’m going to ask you a lot of questions, you’re going to ask me a lot of questions, we’re going to see if our needs and our interests can be met and most of the time they can. Most of the time, what you want is any big inconvenience to me. Most of the time, what I want is not any big surprise to you. And that’s usually what it is, as a very simple way of looking at it is you have interests, you’re going to probably have some sort of detours, disagreement something, and you need to have a plan around it. And that’s over and over again, whether you’re planning a meeting, my intention is to get this interest met, this objective met. Oh, wait, the phones are ringing or somebody interrupting us, what are we going to agree to? Okay, that’s our plan or something happens.
So, everything in my train of thought, everything in my lens is it’s a negotiation. And I have a little bit of a pushback or beef with people that they’ll teach you communication styles. I do it too. I do a lot of communication styles, but then they’ll say, okay, Austin, you’re red Taylorr, you’re blue and a dolphin. All right now, kumbaya, everybody gets along. And they don’t say so that means Taylorr, when Austin says this to you, he really means get it done now. He’s not saying, you know, sometime in the future, he needs it done now, or he needs to know the plan. And, you Taylorr by being blue or by being relational or being accommodating, what you really need to do is let Austin know if that won’t work for you. And Austin really does want you to tell them your point of view, he doesn’t just want you to agree with him. But people don’t give them that direct, this is how you negotiate, this is how you deal with other people.
Taylorr: Oh, that’s fascinating. I think people often think of negotiation kind of solely in the context of selling. Let’s talk about just other areas of your life. As you know, we’re big fans of the selling we’re definitely going to talk about negotiation as it relates to sales, but just in business and life as a whole, are there some explicit examples that come to mind when talking about negotiating?
Linda: Absolutely. The negotiations you do with your family. Think about all the things that we negotiate just to get along, live in the same place, go visit for a holiday. You negotiate when you go into a store and you see that, oh no, my coupons expired. May I use it? You negotiate when you’re dealing with someone you love or someone you don’t love anymore. You’re negotiating with your friends. You’re always negotiating. And where I’ve found a sweet spot is yes, salespeople, but it’s usually how do leaders that already know how to negotiate teach their emerging leaders or their salespeople had to negotiate. Because in sales, you have some people who will sell you out of business. They won’t push back, they want to get the deal, they won’t look at a margin and that does not work in an ongoing business because the client probably doesn’t care, the vendor probably doesn’t care if say, can you deliver it in three weeks instead of immediately.
And yet our sales people often are so like me like me, like me, that they will just take, whatever’s offered. On the other side, you have people that will never tell you what they want. They won’t speak up and a lot of the employment law cases I saw where those people. They just didn’t have the confidence to say, no, don’t rub my shoulders anymore or no I don’t feel comfortable doing that presentation. It was anything along those lines. So that’s important to teach those people how to stand up because a lot of times they’re great at what they do. They may be the world’s best engineer, but if they don’t know that they can ask that hampers them. And then probably the biggest one is leaders.
We don’t have that hierarchical type of workplace anymore. So, when you go to work, you don’t have all these layers that you have to rise from. I’m going to do this for three months and then this is the next step for six months and then two years here. Now you have these cross-functional teams and you have these people that want to communicate to the highest person in that organization. And there’s no one to teach management skills to people and so what do you give them? Well, if you can teach them how to negotiate with someone, you can teach them how to take responsibility, hold people accountable and do it respectfully. So, a lot of times that’s what I’m doing is helping leaders that are good, they’re good leaders at getting goals accomplished, but maybe not influencing their people or getting the results that they really want.
Taylorr: That makes sense. I’m wondering, one of your books ask outrageously, the reason why I think about this is because just a moment ago, you were talking about asking. Like they don’t know to ask, or they don’t feel comfortable asking so it’s teaching them to ask so that they can negotiate for what they want.
Taylorr: But does asking come from both sides of the aisle, between the negotiator and the negotiate-e? Like for example, if someone I find that I’m communicating with, because a lot what you’re talking about so far seems to be negotiation, but with a layer of communication styles because we all communicate so differently. So, let’s say I’m a negotiator, you’re my negotiate-e, I feel like I need to ask in order to pull more information out, does asking outrageously applied to both sides?
Linda: Sure. It does and I would never say, you’re the negotiate-e and you’re the negotiator, everybody’s a negotiator in my book. Either have something you want or you have something I want, or we both have but we’re both negotiators. And so, both sides should be asking questions and just open-ended, what and how. If you can learn what and how you can learn anything. The outrageous pieces, it’s not being obnoxious, it’s just asking a little bit outside your comfort zone. And if you are a master negotiator, and you are Taylorr. And you’re always asking for things. If I ask you for something, you probably heard it. It’s just having the comfort level to know it’s okay to ask. And if they say no, what do you do? Do you know what you say if they say no? People say, you say next. Have you ever heard that? You say next.
Now, if they say, no, what you do is you say, I heard you say now, can you tell me about it? And so many people are out loud thinkers sometimes they’ll talk themselves into it, sometimes they’ll tell you their objection and go, oh, no, I do have that training, or I do have that opportunity, or I do have that service. So, their no, they just didn’t K N O W. And so, a lot of times you’re just educating people on what they don’t know. So, you always ask that follow-up okay can you tell me about that? Or, I heard you say no, or they’ll say absolutely not. Never, ever, ever anything. Okay. That’s the brick wall there. I have 57 and a half things to negotiate, that’s not one of them.
Austin: Yeah. So, it sounds to me like, what you’re saying is oftentimes a negotiation is almost getting underneath whatever the original thing was that was discussed. And I know in sales where…it seems like it’s always going to be brought back to sales here, folks so just be prepared for that. But a lot of the time when somebody gives you an objection, let’s say they tell you, no, it almost always I’ve found the reason that they’re saying no, isn’t even the real reason. There’s almost always like an emotional, underlying cause that is manifesting itself through some other objection. Do you find that that’s true? Is that an important part of this process?
Linda: Sometimes it’s emotional and sometimes it’s just rouge, everybody that asks me, I’m going to say, no. I’m the gatekeeper, I will always say no. Well, that shows that you don’t have any power. So that’s one thing you want to always address is, are you always saying no because is there not a way to say yes, occasionally? A lot of people, we all have our guard up and we are protecting ourselves, our family, our lifestyle, whatever it is and you might not get my real reason. My real reason may be, I don’t understand what you’re talking about, it may be my boss is really mad at me right now, maybe that person cut me off on the freeway before I got here. So, it may be, I haven’t heard it said that way. And I used to use, well, a lot of people use change and transformation.
So, a lot of people bring me in on how do you negotiate this change, this crazy change we’re going through? And I kept using the word transformation, transformation, transformation. And everybody’s faced with just like mad at me and frustrated and confused and everything. Well in their organization when there was a transformation it meant people were being laid off. So, when you hear that, no, that’s what you say, can you tell me about it? Or if they say, well, yeah, transformation, well, can you tell me what transformation means to you? So, if you’re always living in the question, that’s really the secret to negotiation. All the mediators that I trained with, everybody, I know that’s really a first-class mediation does it for living. They’re always just living in the question. Wow. Really? How often does that happen? Huh?
What would that look like? Yeah. Huh. How likely do you think that might happen? They’re always just asking questions. That’s the secret of negotiating. It’s just asking questions, listening, asking more questions, letting them ask you questions. And you’re always saying, is this a fit? Is this something that I could live with? And what have I not asked that maybe might be available? I’ve done that too. Have you ever done that question? You know where you say, okay, well, what am I not asking you that people in my position usually ask you? Or is there anything I’m missing? What else should I be asking? And so often people say, well, you didn’t ask me about the hotel stay, you didn’t ask me about extended and they’ve told me great things that I would never have thought of asking. And so, you can always do that. What should I ask you that other people like me ask? And they’ll often tell you.
Austin: Yeah, what you’re saying right now is so approachable too. I think negotiation as a topic, I think is grossly misunderstood a lot of the time. And there’s also this I think perceived negativity sometimes around negotiation. For example, I think a lot of people pair negotiation with confrontation, meaning that those two things have to happen. Nothing you’ve just said indicates that there’s a confrontation happening when negotiating is going on. What you’ve said is it’s about asking really good questions and truly understanding where the person’s coming from. Would you agree with that?
Linda: I so agree with that, yeah. There’s kind of two thoughts, two sides of this. A lot of people do try to throw people off. And I used to see it when practicing law, they would come in and they’d be big burly, where’s my [inaudible 17:08] and I need this. Their way of negotiating, their way of dealing with people was let’s make them uncomfortable maybe they’ll slip up. I, A, can’t pull that off. My personality style doesn’t allow me to do it. And B I can’t remember all those little details on how I’m supposed to yell or what exact strategy I’m supposed to use here whatever. All I can do is be approachable until somebody really burns me. If somebody treats me badly, I’m not going to be nice to them anymore, but most of us are just trying to get along.
So, this is much more the win-win or I call it the triple win. Win, win, win if you can. So, who are you dealing with? Is there a win there for them? Is there a win for me? And then boy, if you can get a third person that it’s a win, whether it’s your organization, community, a lot of these meeting professionals are now is not just you and I have a deal city, we’re also going to help your city and there’s this other group. So, if you can always add that third, who else could benefit? It might be my family. It might be the community, it might be other people like me watching me take this new promotion, whatever it is often that triple one will help you. It’s a work around. 65% of us won’t ask for ourselves, we’d rather ask for someone else if given the choice.
And it’s so much easier to ask for someone else. So sometimes you can think, my family really would like more money, so we can take a vacation and get a better home. So, maybe I will ask and increase my speaker fees, or that audience really would like to have something to take home with them to remember, so I’m going to ask this client, do you want books so that my audience member can go home with a book and go back through the principles? So, if you can think of that third win often, that’ll help get you over that hurdle.
Taylorr: That’s an awesome distinction. What a gem.
Austin: I love that. It’s like the idea of I’m asking for a friend like cliche, like that actually works.
Linda: And it’s crazy too. If you give a reason, have you seen those statistics, like Xerox did a study and people wouldn’t cut in line. That was our biggest aha when we say, what won’t you ask for people would rather borrow money, ask for a raise, ask for a different boss rather than asked to cut in line. Is that crazy?
Austin: Wow, really?
Linda: And so, if you can use that little why, so you always give them a reason. So, may I cut in line…let’s say you’re at the grocery store, may I cut in line? I only have two items and people like, sure, I’ve got a buggy full come on through. Or may I can’t line I’m running late, or it can be even, may I cut in line? I don’t like waiting at all. It doesn’t matter what it is, they’re more likely to give it to you if you give them a reason.
Austin: I’m going to try that next time I’m in a long line. Hey, I really just hate waiting can I [cross-talk 20:06] please? [cross-talk 20:09].
Linda: Yeah, ask first and then give them your little reason.
Taylorr: As you’ve been talking, one of the things I can’t help but think about is negotiation requires a level of confidence and you’ve kind of given us some ways that we can gain a little bit of confidence by asking questions and explaining why, for example, while we’re negotiating, but how can we become more confident when we have to negotiate? Are there any exercises you walk people through?
Linda: Sure. The biggest one is, ask everywhere. So, what holds people back is they have experienced anxiety and your heart beating and those chemicals, it feels the same to negotiate multimillion dollar deal as it does to go to a garage sale or a flea market and ask for a discount or ask, can I have two for those? Or would you take half or would you take a third or would you take a 10% of it? It’s so crazy that those are the same emotions. So, first thing you have to do is get used to feeling those emotions. So, ask for directions, ask for help, ask get into the mode then ask, I heard you say no, can you walk me through that? Can you tell me about it? So now you’re kind of pushing back just a little bit in a nice, polite way. You know what my secret is? I also asked for the manager.
If I ever get good service anywhere, because everybody’s on their phone, I’ll say, may I your manager? And you see all the heads go, what’s going on? Everybody turns their head? What are you doing? And then when a manager comes up, I say, wow, Austin was amazing today. Not only did he answer my question, he walked me over there and he found the thing for me, whatever, found my shirt that I was looking for. So, that’s just getting to that experience. Here’s the second thing that you’ll learn when you start asking. You learn who makes decisions. And they all have the same kind of characteristics you see who can say yes and who can say no. And it could be anything from putt-putt golf to again, multi-million-dollar deal. You start seeing those people, those stakeholders that are the decision makers, and that’s how you aim your questions and that’ll help more than anything I know to start asking and get used to hearing the word no. Just used to it you’ll survive. You will.
Austin: So, do you have any tells to look for if you’re looking for a potential decision maker, let’s say? Are there mannerisms or behavioral things that you look for to see who really has the ability to say yes or no?
Linda: Yeah. And they don’t have to be a certain role. That’s I think the shock is you have some people that are more willing to help and have more customer service, for instance. They’ll look up, they’ll be very direct. The reason why questioning is so important in negotiations and short questions, are because that’s the love language of decision makers. Think about the highest-level person, high CEO or C-suite person you know, they live in the question. Maybe you’re reporting to them, maybe you’re presenting a marketing campaign and they’re going to say something like, okay, what are you here for? And you think, well, gosh, I’ve been coming to you for the last six weeks, what’s the issue? You should know what I’m doing. It’s not that they’re trying to be rude, they’re trying to funnel down through questions. Is this something I need to concentrate on and take action on? Because they have so many people coming at them.
So, decision makers are oftentimes almost abrupt with their questions. What is it you need ma’am? How are you doing, sir? What can I help you with? Yes, we’re having a conference. What would that take? It’s very short questions. That’s one sign. Directive and then bottom line. Often, they’ll say, well just cut to the chase, tell me what you really need, what is it that I should be doing here? What should I be looking for? That said, if that’s their love language, do you want to hear how you respond to that?
Austin: Yes, that was going to be my next question.
Linda: Okay. So, let’s say you’re on a call or on a zoom meeting and the CEO says, all right, tell me about why we should hire you as a speaker. How do you respond to that? You say, I can think of about a thousand reasons why you should hire me for a speaker. I’m great, people love me in great [inaudible 24:21], but this is your conference or this is your meeting or this is your program. What is it that you wanted to accomplish? Or why am I here? Why are you spending your valuable time? Because that’s the most valuable resource they have is time. What is it you want? And as soon as you start asking those open-ended questions, what is it you most want to get accomplish? And I had one tell me yesterday. I want people to get along. I want a good team environment.
I said terrific, what does that look like? How would you know? And he was silent and silent doesn’t mean bad, silent means he was thinking. He said, that’s a good question. If you get that’s a good question, you’ve hit the decision maker and you’ve asked something, it’s a buying signal for decision makers. If you have someone else say, can I have your speaker fees please? I don’t want to talk to you. I’m just talking to you on an email. Can I just have your speaker fees? They probably are gathering information for a decision maker or decision-making team.
Austin: That makes sense. Would you answer those questions immediately?
Linda: I have a range. I say my range is this to this. It depends on what you want me to do when you want me to do it. When can we talk and who will be involved in the decision besides yourself? You never want to with authority, make somebody feel small because they’re often the people that could say no and you never talked to anybody and also why make people feel small? That’s stupid. They’re going to help you later that’s just ridiculous. And you want to meet that authority objection with huh? Who besides yourself is making the decision? Let’s invite them to or okay walk me through your process. And they say, well, first it goes here and then it goes there. Well, great, so I know let’s, let’s make your job easier. Let’s bring those people in. So as much as possible, you want to help them look successful.
Taylorr: That’s an awesome tip. And I also like you’re asking questions, but kind of still in a directive way, still pushes, I don’t know, the ball down the field. Like in the example that you gave with the CEO, you kind of match the tone of where he was getting at and then you also asked a very direct question to make sure that you could answer that appropriately and that’s where lots of respect starts to build, rapport starts to build and of course, once you get to that money well, that’s a good question then, you know you’re kind of on the right path. So, I’m curious with all of your experience in negotiation, if you had to sum it up to one thing, what’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to negotiation?
Linda: Because they are afraid that they’re going to miss something, they don’t ask enough questions and they don’t ask them politely. A third of the people will turn you down, flat out tell you no, if you’re inconsiderate or impolite. I have the statistics; I did the research. So be polite. You don’t ever want to lose that and go ahead and ask and probe because in the end, if you want it to be their thought leader, their speaker, whatever goal you’re trying to be, their consultant, whatever you’re doing, you want to serve them the best to your ability and you want to be able to see what their real needs are. And so, ask the open-ended what and how questions just keep asking.
Taylorr: I love that [cross-talk 27:46].
Austin: Tip. I love it.
Taylorr: Simple, actionable, perfect. So, Linda, this has been a jam-packed episode. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your wisdom with us. And as you know, we’re all about creating value for our audience so what are some of the things you’re working on right now that our listeners can benefit from?
Linda: Terrific. I am doing some assessments right now. I’m beefing up what I already have, which is deal styles. And it’s identifying what kind of deals people have and really working on the leadership program that I’ve been delivering for several years on how do you grow and develop your leaders? We’ve called it Fasttrack Your Leaders and High-performance Leadership. Those all deal with negotiation day one. How do you decide, make good decisions? How do you engage? How do you accommodate other people’s needs and your own? You can’t forget about your own and how do you leverage what you already know? And whether you’re a leader or a deal maker, you’ve got to be able to hit all of those points and for your audience, I love Speaker Flow as you know, and I have a lot of things that’ll help speakers, tips, what not to do and just some different resources that I think will help them and I’ll provide them all to for free.
Taylorr: Wow, that is awesome. Thank you. I will have those linked below everybody and hey, if you liked this episode, don’t forget to rate, subscribe. And if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools you need to run your podcast and it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcast simple; it makes recording podcasts simple; it even makes publishing podcasts to the masses simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking, wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one, currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speaker flow, or click the link below in our show notes.